Tuesday Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

The markets were mixed on Tuesday afternoon. Earnings are in focus right now, with companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announcing their fourth-quarter results after the bell, and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) missing estimates with its morning release.

At 2:21 p.m.: DJIA: +0.32%, S&P 500: +0.26%, NASDAQ: +0.07%.

Here are three stories steering the markets:Congress

1) House Republicans will vote on Wednesday to pass a fourth-month extension of the debt ceiling. The deal would allow the government to meet its obligations through May 19, hopefully giving Congress enough time to reach a consensus on spending cuts.

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The bill would withhold lawmaker’s pay until next year if a budget is not passed by April 15. The Senate, currently Democratically controlled, has not passed a budget in four years because there is no punitive incentive to do so. Democrats have already expressed concern over the Republican proposal… (Read more.)

jobs2) The International Labour Organization predicts that global unemployment will hit 202 million this year. This is an increase of 2.5 percent, which compares to a 2.1 percent increase in 2012, and a projected 1.4 percent increase in 2014.

“An uncertain economic outlook, and the inadequacy of policy to counter this, has weakened aggregate demand, holding back investment and hiring,” said ILO Director General Guy Ryder in a statement. “This has prolonged the labour market slump in many countries, lowering job creation and increasing unemployment duration even in some countries that previously had low unemployment and dynamic labour markets.”

3) U.S. existing home sales surprised economists by dropping 1 percent to an annual rate of 4.94 million units in December, below expectations for slight growth to an annual rate of 5.1 million. About 4.65 million homes were sold in 2012, the most in five years. Sales and prices are both expected to continue increasing, but the there some concerns about inventory will persist into 2013.

“Record low mortgage interest rates clearly are helping many home buyers, but tight inventory and restrictive mortgage underwriting standards are limiting sales,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement… (Read more.)

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