NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are rising this morning. Strong earnings from Facebook and the government's report that the economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter are among the factors boosting shares. The Dow jumped nearly 100 points in the opening minutes of trading. It's given back some of those gains but remains well into positive territory. The broader indexes also are firmly higher.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Higher taxes and federal spending cuts held back economic growth last year, but the government's latest report shows the economy had some momentum as 2013 came to a close. The Commerce Department says U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter propelled by the strongest consumer spending in three years. That followed a 4.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter. The 16-day partial government shutdown in October cut fourth-quarter growth by about 0.3 percentage point.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for unemployment benefits rose 19,000 last week to 348,000. The increase follows three weeks of declines. The Labor Department says the four-week average increased just 750 to 333,000. That is close to pre-recession levels and suggests that layoffs remain low. However, hiring will need to pick up to reduce the unemployment rate, which remains high at 6.7 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy previously occupied homes in December. The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index of pending home sales dropped 8.7 percent last month. That's the seventh straight monthly decline for the index. Rising mortgage rates and price increases crimped sales in recent months, while cold weather served as an additional drag in December. For the year, however, sales totaled 5.1 million, the highest in seven years.
FREMONT, Calif. (AP) -- Men's Wearhouse is making another pitch to Jos. A. Bank, asking its rival to reconsider a $1.61 billion takeover offer. Men's Wearhouse says it could boost the offer if Jos. A. Bank can show it's worth more. It's also asking Jos. A. Bank to form a committee to reconsider merging the two companies. The takeover saga began in October when Jos. A. Bank made a $2.3 billion offer for Men's Wearhouse.
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