Conference Board economist Ataman Ozyildirim said that the November index increase suggested "gradually strengthening economic conditions through early 2014."
The November gain was driven by improvements in labor markets, manufacturing orders and strong financial market indicators reflecting in part stock market gains.
Average US rate on 30-year loan rises to 4.47 pct.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose slightly this week but remained near historically low levels.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.47 percent from 4.42 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.51 percent from 3.43 percent.
Mortgage rates peaked at 4.6 percent in August and have stabilized since September, when the Federal Reserve surprised markets by taking no action on starting to reduce its $85 billion-a month bond purchases. The Fed decided this week that the outlook for the economy appeared strong enough for it to reduce the monthly bond purchases starting in January by $10 billion.
The purchases are designed to keep long-term rates such as mortgage rates low.
Darden looking to spin off or sell Red Lobster
NEW YORK (AP) — Darden Restaurants wants to set Red Lobster adrift.
The company said Thursday that it is looking to either spin off or sell Red Lobster as part of its plan to boost value for its shareholders. Those plans also include suspending the opening of new Olive Garden locations and limit the opening of new LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants.
Darden Restaurants Inc. has also decided it won't make any acquisitions of additional brands "for the foreseeable future" and plans to review senior management's compensation and incentive programs so that there is more emphasis on same-store restaurant sales growth and free cash flow.
Christie's launches in India to tap growing wealth
MUMBAI, India (AP) — Christie's held its first art auction in India on Thursday, aiming to tap into a budding market for prestige purchasing among the country's fast-growing ranks of millionaires despite an economic slowdown.
The inaugural sale of 83 lots in the financial hub of Mumbai featured paintings from the private collection of one of India's first families of contemporary art as well as pieces from six of the nine Indian artists deemed "national treasures" whose works cannot leave the country. Total sales added up to $16.4 million, more than double the pre-auction estimates.
Christie's sees the relatively underdeveloped art market in Asia's third-largest economy as fertile ground for growth as part of its international expansion that has included recent auctions in China and the Middle East.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.11 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 16,179.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.05 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,809.60. The Nasdaq composite fell 11.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,058.13.
Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery rose 97 cents to close at $98.77 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 4.3 cents to close at $2.740 a gallon. Natural gas soared nearly 5 percent to close at $4.46 per thousand cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1.8 cents to close at $3.025 a gallon.
Brent crude for February delivery, a benchmark used to price international crudes used by many U.S. refiners, rose 66 cents to close at $110.29.
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