Morning Business Memo

Dec 21, 2011 6:57am

The stock market is coming off its strongest one-day gain this month with a 337 point rise for the Dow. Stock futures are up this morning. European stocks continue to rally. The bounce came after positive economic reports from the US and Germany.

Housing construction was at its strongest pace in November in a year and a half. A survey of builder sentiment this week showed improvement. ShopperTrak, a firm that monitors retail and mall traffic, has raised its holiday shopping projection. It now expects holiday retail sales will rise 3.7 percent compared with last year, up from its earlier forecast of a 3 percent rise. One big potential stumbling block, however, is the continued deadlock over the payroll tax cut extension. The White House warns failure to reach an agreement is a threat to the economy.

The European Central Bank is lending about $640 billion to banking firms as it tries to bolster the region’s stressed financial system. The ECB says more than 500 banks took the loans. The loan program is an attempt to reassure markets banks will have long-term financing after problems triggered by the Eurozone debt crisis. The Federal Reserve has proposed new rules to require the largest US banks to hold more capital. The decision is part of a broad attempt to protect against another financial crisis.

A published report says a group of hackers in China breached the computer defenses of the US chamber of Commerce – America’s top business lobbying group. The Wall Street Journal says hackers gained access to everything stored on the Chamber’s systems, including information about its three million members. It’s possible the Chinese hackers had access to the network for more than a year before the breach was discovered.

Morning Business Memo will return after Christmas. Happy holidays.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc

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