German court’s rescue-fund ruling pleases U.S. markets

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks finished modestly higher Wednesday after a German court declined to block a euro-area rescue fund and as investors mulled the possibility of further stimulus from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues.

“The German court ruling that they would stand behind a eurozone rescue fund was received positively; there was some fear that Germany would not be so supportive,” said Matt Kaufler, portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

“There is also some optimism that we’re going to get QE3, although I don’t personally believe it’s going to happen,” said Kaufler, referring to a possible third round of quantitative easing. “My read of the tea leaves has been that Bernanke would rather jawbone and use language at this point to steer things, as opposed to getting involved in another QE operation.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.99 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 13,333.35, its highest finish since December 2007.

The Nasdaq composite added 9.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,114.31.

Shares of Apple Inc. closed 1.4 percent higher after the unveiling of the iPhone 5. The stocks traded little changed for much of the session.

The S&P 500 index gained 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,436.56.

Report: Great Recession has cost U.S. $12.8 trillion or so

WASHINGTON – The financial crisis and the Great Recession have taken a heavy toll on the U.S. Now one advocacy group says it has calculated that cost: at least $12.8 trillion.

The estimate Wednesday from Better Markets, a public interest group that supports tougher financial regulations, came in a 72-page report released just days before the four-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Bros. That failure triggered the crisis, which dramatically exacerbated the recession that began in late 2007.

“People actually shouldn’t be surprised there is a big number when you’re adding up the costs of what’s happened to this country,” said Dennis Kelleher, the group’s chief executive, who hopes the report will be used to offset complaints by Wall Street about the cost of new regulations spurred by the crisis.

“Wall Street and its many allies and sympathizers are denying and understating the cost of the crisis to kill, weaken and avoid regulation,” he told reporters.

The report tries to calculate the effect of the crisis and recession in terms of reduced economic output, and the costs of stabilizing the markets and bailing out banks and large financial firms.

Coca-Cola betting billions on its vision of global thirst

ATLANTA – By the year 2020, more than 2 billion people around the world are expected to join the middle class or move from rural and farming areas into big cities.

Coca-Cola hopes they’ll be thirsty.

In a bid to broaden its international appeal, the Atlanta-based beverage giant has announced investments of more than $30 billion in markets around the world over the next five years. The investment boost, which will be done in conjunction with Coca-Cola’s bottling partners, is part of the company’s “2020 Vision,” a strategy to double Coca-Cola’s revenue – it was about $100 billion in 2010 – in the next eight years.

– From news service reports