Greek Vote Boosts Stocks: Morning Business Memo

A sigh of relief from global investors as global stock markets rise after the vote in Athens. The Greek Parliament approved a new set of austerity measures. International lenders insisted on spending cuts and higher taxes before Greece gets the money. Without $170 billion the Greek government would default under a mountain of debt. The new austerity measures include a 22 percent cut in Greece's minimum wage and 150,000 government layoffs by 2015. Critics say the proposals do nothing to revive an economy which faces a 21 percent unemployment rate.

American consumers are charging more on their credit cards after changing spending habits during the recession. "We're seeing the numbers rise with people going back to their credit cards," says Beverly Harzog of "I don't know if it's because peoples' own personal economies are getting better or job situations are better: whatever the reason we saw it during the holidays." Some consumers ditched debit cards after banks threatened them with new fees.

Gasoline prices may be rising, but households in many states are enjoying lower utility bills because of the mild winter. With the fall in natural gas prices the recent drilling boom appears to be slowing. Several companies have said recently they plan to cut back production. But overseas markets for America's natural gas are opening up - especially in Japan. The Wall Street Journal reports US and Canadian producers are "seeing the first stirrings of projects aiming to sell newly uncovered natural gas supplies to Japan and elsewhere in Asia."

A busy week ahead for business and economic reports. Tomorrow brings the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which has been up four months in a row. Retail sales for January will be released, and they may show a gain, largely because of higher gasoline prices. Also coming out this week are new reports on housing and industrial production.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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