Last Update on December 13, 2013 08:27 GMT
BEIJING (AP) -- Asian stock markets showed tentative gains for the most part today as investors prepared for the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision next week on whether to reduce its monetary stimulus.
Markets declined in smaller economies including Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand that might be more exposed if a reduction in the Fed's stimulus hurts U.S. demand for imports or sparks short-term capital flight from Asian economies.
Strong U.S. retail sales and signs of an imminent budget agreement in Congress have reinforced expectations that the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Dec. 17-18 might decide to start reducing its $85 billion worth of monthly financial asset purchases.
Benchmark crude oil rose above $97.50 per barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has given sweeping bipartisan approval to a budget bill backed by both President Barack Obama, his Democratic allies and a large majority of the chamber's Republicans.
The legislation would ease across-the-board federal spending cuts and prevent future government shutdowns.
The 332-94 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where Republicans are more skeptical. But the Democratic-led chamber appears sure to adopt the measure next week and send it to Obama for his signature.
The package was drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray. The Wisconsin Republican and Washington Democrat found enough compromise to ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month.
Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative activists.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has passed an extension of farm law until the end of January as lawmakers try to finish work on a new five-year farm bill.
Both the Senate and the House have passed farm bills this year, but they differ on how much to cut the nation's food stamp program and how to restructure farm subsidies.
The House passed the extension amid fears that the expiration of dairy subsidies at the end of the year will cause milk prices to rise. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has assured Congress that will not happen before the end of January.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Senate will not pass an extension because it is unnecessary. Some senators argue an extension could reduce pressure to pass a farm bill.
SEATTLE (AP) -- A Boeing spokesman says the company has presented a "best and final counterproposal" to the Machinists union but union leaders rejected the offer to keep much of the work on Boeing's new 777X jet in the Puget Sound region.
Last month, the Machinists rejected a proposed eight-year contract for the 777X work, in part because it would have replaced workers' traditional pension with a defined-contribution savings plan.
The union and the company have held three days of talks over the issue.
Boeing's Doug Alder says the revised contract extension proposal presented Thursday included previously proposed "changes to the way members earn future retirement benefits," meaning a defined-contribution plan.
The proposal would have kept in place the current rate at which employees accelerate to the top of the pay scale.
Boeing says it has received proposals from 22 states seeking the 777X jobs.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Boeing is shifting hundreds of jobs to Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina as it restructures its research and technology operations.
The Chicago-based aerospace company said Thursday that it will decrease its research operations in Washington state and California as part of the change.
The announcement comes as those same states, and several others, compete to assemble Boeing's 777X passenger plane.
Boeing spokesman Daryl Stephenson says the restructuring of research operations is unrelated to the new airplane and was in the works long beforehand.
The company is adding 300-400 employees each in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina. Research jobs are declining by 800-1,200 in Washington and by 200-300 in California.
DETROIT (AP) -- Emergency manager Kevyn Orr says public services are already improving in bankrupt Detroit.
He told The Associated Press on Thursday that police are responding more quickly to 911 calls and 26,000 lights have been added or fixed on the city's streets. He also said efforts to tear down vacant houses have been stepped up.
Orr says the visible changes won't all come at once and some may take up to three years.
Detroit's bankruptcy was given the green light on Dec. 3.
There is also a private effort to raise $500 million to help the city pay its bills.
ATLANTA (AP) -- Coca-Cola is shuffling its executive ranks and organizational structure at its North America business, which has struggled with a decline in soda sales.
The world's biggest beverage maker said Thursday that Steve Cahillane, president of Coca-Cola Americas, has left the company to pursue other opportunities.
Coca-Cola Co. also noted that, beginning Jan. 1, it will split its North America business into two operating units, among other planned structural changes.
It named Global Chief Customer Officer J.A.M. "Sandy" Douglas to be group president of one unit, Coca-Cola North America.
The second unit, Coca-Cola Refreshments, will be headed by Bottling Investments Group executive Paul Mulligan.
The maker of Sprite, Powerade and Vitaminwater has seen global sales volume grow in emerging markets, but Americans continue to cut back on soda.