Dividends, now taxed at 15 percent, will be treated like ordinary income next year unless Congress and the White House extend current tax breaks as part of a budget deal.
The Commerce Department raised its estimate for U.S. economic growth to an annual rate of 2.7 percent in the July-through-September period. That's much better than the 2 percent rate estimated a month ago and more than twice the 1.3 percent rate logged in the three previous months.
The Labor Department also reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped to 393,000 last week, in line with what economists had expected. It was the second straight drop after Superstorm Sandy drove applications higher earlier this month.
Target, The Gap, and others retail stores posted poor sales numbers, driving their stocks lower. It's a crucial time for retailers, who log a huge chunk of their yearly profits in the weeks running up to the holidays.
Among other companies making news:
— Kohl's plunged 12 percent, the biggest drop in the S&P 500 index. The company posted a drop in sales and said stores in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, areas hit by Superstorm Sandy, fared the worst. Kohl's stock lost $6.13 to $45.02.
— Kroger Co. rose $1.19 to $26.25 after the supermarket chain reported stronger quarterly profits and raised its earnings outlook for the year. Stronger sales helped the operator of Fred Meyer and Food 4 Less stores post better results than analysts had expected.
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