Friday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

The U.S. equity markets started the day off on the wrong foot but found their balance late in the afternoon. Earnings pulled at individual stocks, but at the end of the day it was some positive news out of Washington that rallied investor confidence.

At the close: DJIA: +0.39%, S&P 500: +0.28%, NASDAQ: -0.04%.

Here are three stories that helped frame the markets today:Erase Debt

1) A new chapter has begun in the ongoing United States debt-ceiling debate. House Republicans, fresh off a private policy meeting in Virginia, announced on Friday that they will vote on a short-term increase to the federal borrowing limit.

The Republican proposal would increase the government’s borrowing limit just enough to finance operations through mid-April. This gives Congress a little more breathing room beyond the current deadline for default, which is either late February or early March, depending on how long the Treasury’s extraordinary financing measures last, and Republicans would like to use this time to pass a budget… (Read more.)

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geithner_t2) United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be leaving for greener pastures on January 25. Geithner has been looking to leave his post for a while, but has delayed an exit because of the tremendous fiscal problems facing the country. First it was the fiscal cliff, and now it’s the debt ceiling, which has become politically tied to the half of the fiscal cliff that has yet to be resolved: the sequester.

President Barack Obama has nominated White House chief of staff Jack Lew to fill his shoes… (Read more.)

3) Consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell for the second month in a row, hitting its lowest level in a year. Clouded by the payroll tax increase and continued (though now partially eased) political bickering in Washington, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 71.3, well below the expected increase to 75… (Read more.)

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