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Stocks start higher...Fed dissenter: target 5.5 percent unemployment...Sanctions bite Russia

Friday - 3/21/2014, 11:40am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market looks set to close out a turbulent week with solid gains. The S&P 500 added 12 points to start today's trading and remains more than five points higher. The Dow has been as much as 115 points higher, but the Nasdaq has dropped into negative territory.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The president of the Federal Reserve's Minneapolis bank says the Fed should keep its key interest rate at a record low until unemployment falls below 5.5 percent. Narayana Kocherlakota (nayr-ah-YAH'-nah kohch-ur-lah-KOH'-tah) was the lone dissenter on this week's policy decision. The Fed's policy statement dropped any reference to a specific unemployment rate that might lead the Fed to eventually to raise short-term rates. Kocherlakota says that will foster uncertainty.

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian stocks are down about 2 percent today as another credit rating agency put the country on notice of a possible downgrade and Visa and MasterCard stopped serving two Russian banks. Russia's economic outlook is suffering after the country moved to annex Crimea this week, prompting the U.S. and other European nations to impose sanctions. The Russian stock market has lost than more 10 percent this month.

UNDATED (AP) -- Fitch Ratings has concluded a review of the United States' credit rating and affirmed that it deserves the highest rating. The credit rating firm started the review in October amid another debt-ceiling crisis, warning it might downgrade the U.S. debt rating. However, Fitch says the U.S. rating remains at "AAA" and the Washington drama over the nation's borrowing limit does not appear to have affected the country's ability to borrow. Fitch also notes that U.S. deficits are expected to fall.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- WellPoint shares have been trading above its all-time high today, after the nation's second largest health insurer raised its 2014 earnings forecast. WellPoint had said in January that it expected earnings to be greater than $8 per share. It's upped that by 20 cents. Analysts are forecasting even better. WellPoint is selling coverage on several state-based health insurance exchanges created by the health care overhaul.


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