U.S. stocks fall from record highs
NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell Wednesday, erasing December's gains for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and paring an annual advance after equity gauges reached all-time highs.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1 percent to 2,058.90, erasing its monthly increase. It finished the year with an 11 percent gain. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 160 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,823.07. About 5.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 25 percent below the three-month average. Equity markets will be shut Thursday for the New Year's Day holiday.
The S&P 500's 0.4 percent retreat for the month was the first December decline since 2007. About half of Wednesday's drop came in the final 30 minutes of trading. Utility companies in the S&P 500 plunged 1.8 percent. Technology, phone, financial and consumer-staples shares tumbled more than 1.2 percent.
New year may bring more small business help D.C.
NEW YORK -- Small business owners may get more help from Washington in 2015.
Gridlock in Washington in recent years has stalled tax bills and other legislation aimed at helping small companies, but such proposals are expected to be on the agenda in the Republican-led Congress. Democrats have opposed some proposals because of concerns about the impact of those tax breaks on the federal budget.
Parts of the health care law are likely to be debated. And lawmakers and the Small Business
U.S. consumer confidence rises in December
WASHINGTON -- American consumers are feeling more confident, a private survey showed.
The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index climbed to 92.6 this month from a revised 91 in November.
Consumers have plenty of reasons to feel better: Gas prices are down, the economy grew last quarter at its fastest clip in 11 years and employers are on pace to make 2014 the best year for hiring since 1999. The missing piece of the economic recovery is pay as wages are barely keeping up with inflation.
-- Herald wire reports