emperor penguins antarctica

Photo: Flickr/sandwichgirl

Stocks climbed modestly to a new post-crisis high.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 13,649, -53.6, +0.3 per cent
S&P 500: 1,485, +5.0, +0.3 per cent
NASDAQ: 3,134, -1.2, -0.0 per cent

And now the top stories:

  • Last night, China reported that its GDP grew at a 7.9 per cent rate in Q4, which was a tad higher than the 7.8 per cent increase expected by economists. 
  • “We expect year-of-year GDP growth to peak around 8.3% in 1H13 and slow to 8.0% in 2H13,” wrote Bank of America economist Ting Lu about China. “Our suggestion to investors is to remain bullish in 1H13, but to exercise more caution in 2H13.”  SocGen’s Excellent Presentation Dives Into The Question: ‘What If China Lands Hard?’ >
  • A surprisingly weak consumer sentiment report kept markets in check.  According, the latest University of Michigan survey, consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to 71.3 from last month’s reading of 72.9.  Economists were looking for a reading of 75.0.
  • “The deterioration in sentiment is a stark reminder of the debilitating impact that the ongoing uncertainty created by the political dysfunction in Washington is having on household’s mood,” wrote TD’s Millan Mulraine.  “And while spending appears to be holding up reasonably well (in spite of the collapse in confidence in recent months) with sales activity remaining relatively brisk, if the uncertainty persists and confidence deteriorates further, it is likely to have a more lasting dampening effect on spending.”
  • Markets were down for most of the day. But they came back after we got some news from Washington, which caused the volatility index (VIX) to sink to multi-year lows.
  • House Republicans announced that they would vote for a three-month debt ceiling hike next week. A longer-term extension in the debt ceiling would then be contingent on the Senate passing a budget. “The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending,” wrote Eric Cantor in a statement.  “The House has done so, and will again. The Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in almost four years, which is unfair to hardworking taxpayers who expect more from their representatives. That ends this year.”
  • Don’t Miss: The True Story Of When Everyone Thought Japan Was Going To Take Over America >
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