Morning Business Memo:
Let's twist again: The Federal Reserve is likely to announce the extension of Operation Twist at the end of its two-day policy meeting. The $400 billion bond buying program is scheduled to end this month, and with economic growth slowing down, most Fed watchers expect it to be extended. It's not clear if the program will have much impact. Ten year treasuries are at around 1.6 percent - the lowest interest rate in decades. But investors are betting the Federal Reserve is acting with other central banks overseas to keep global growth from stalling. Largely because of this speculation, the Dow Jones index has moved up to at its highest level in a month. Most stock averages rose Tuesday for the fourth session in a row.
What's the view from the corner office? Executives in mid- to large-size companies are said to be "reasonably optimistic about their individual growth prospects but less optimistic about the prospects for the American economy in general," according to Tom McGee at Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services. His firm surveyed many executives and found "there is a cloud of uncertainty" about the economy.
Europe's economy and debt problems are still a big worry for American exporters. Among the latest developments: The three parties that accept the general terms of the bailout in Greece agreed in principle to form a coalition government, and are working out the details, according to officials. Spain's sky-high borrowing rates have edged down somewhat and the finance minister has again denied that Spain will need a full-fledged bailout of its public finances. This morning's yield on Spanish 10-year bonds is down to 6.88 percent.
Consumer products giant Proctor and Gamble has cut its fourth-quarter earnings and sales forecasts. P&G's stock fell nearly 2 percent in premarket trading.
Asia's millionaires outnumbered North America's for the first time last year. The report by Capgemini and Royal Bank of Canada found that the Asia-Pacific region was home to 3.37 million people who have at least $1 million to invest. That's up 1.6 percent from the year before. In second place was North America, with 3.35 million.