S&P 5-year high

The Standard and Poor’s 500 index climbed to another five-year high after strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy. The reports helped offset disappointment over the fourth-quarter earnings reports of two of the nation’s biggest banks, Citigroup and Bank of America, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Boeing keeps going

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Boeing said 787s will keep rolling off the assembly line while it works to get the planes grounded by regulators flying again. Boeing’s newest, flashiest jet was grounded worldwide after one plane suffered a battery fire and another battery emitted a smell. The two incidents prompted airlines and regulators around the world to ground the planes until a fix for the battery problem is found that satisfies the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Repossessions slow

Lenders took possession of fewer U.S. homes in 2012 than a year earlier, as the pace of new homes entering the path to foreclosure slowed and banks increasingly opted to allow troubled borrowers to sell their homes for less than what they owed on their mortgage. Banks repossessed 671,251 homes last year, down almost 17 percent from 804,423 the year before, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac said.

Contractors selected

The Atlantic Wind Connection, developer of an electricity transmission system off New Jersey, has selected Bechtel as its engineering, procurement and construction contractor, and international power equipment supplier Alstom as its technical adviser for this first phase of the project. The cable will span the length of New Jersey and be built in three phases over a decade, starting in 2016.

Housing starts up

The Commerce Department said Thursday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000. That’s 12.1 percent higher than November’s annual rate, but still only a little more than half the pace considered healthy.

Loan rates dip

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.38 percent. That’s down from 3.40 percent last week. It hit 3.31 percent in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

Jobless claims fall

Weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000, the Labor Department said. That’s the lowest level since January 2008, just after the recession began.

Phila. news deal

The union representing journalists at Philadelphia’s two major newspapers said it will bargain a new contract to help prevent the troubled company from being liquidated. Interstate General Media, which owns The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, had threatened last week to liquidate or sell its assets unless it got new labor agreements by today.

La. gambling win

Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos won roughly $2.4 billion from gamblers in 2012, up from about $2.37 billion in 2011. Harrah’s land-based casino in New Orleans won $34.7 million in December, better than the $32.1 million a year ago.

Mass. door shuts

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has rejected several requests for extensions to file casino applications. The commission considered, but denied, four requests for waivers including one from Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette, who had still hoped to lure a casino developer into the western Massachusetts city.


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