Positive U.S. growth report sends stock indexes higher

An unexpectedly strong report on U.S. economic growth pushed stocks higher Friday, capping off Wall Street’s best week in three months.

The report, which showed the U.S. economy grew at a healthy 4.1 percent annual pace between July and September, is the latest positive piece of economic data investors have gotten in recent weeks.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial average rose 42.06 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,221.14. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.71 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,818.31 and the Nasdaq composite added 46.61 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,104.74. Both indexes ended the week up roughly 2.5 percent.

Senate OKs IRS nomination, concludes debate on Yellen

A cross Congress ended its business for the year Friday as the Senate approved a new boss for the troubled Internal Revenue Service.

Before leaving town, senators voted 59-36 to approve President Obama’s nomination of John Koskinen, a retired corporate and government turnaround expert, to become IRS commissioner.

The Senate also moved Janet Yellen to the brink of becoming the first woman to head the Federal Reserve, voting 59-34 to end debate on her nomination. The chamber plans to confirm her to the powerful post when it returns from its holiday break Jan. 6.

Local post office delivering packages 7 days for 2 weeks

In recent years, mail carriers have had fewer and fewer letters to deliver. Demand has dropped so much that the U.S. Postal Service, which lost $5 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, tried to get Congress’ approval to stop Saturday letter deliveries.

So it came as a surprise when the Chicago post office announced last week that local carriers would deliver packages seven days a week in the two weeks before Christmas – including this Sunday – to keep up with a larger-than-expected boom in demand for holiday shipping.

“Why the growth? Two words: online shipping,” said Mark Reynolds, Postal Service spokesman for the Chicago District.

Though the number of pieces of first-class mail, which makes up the largest share of the Postal Service’s revenue, fell from 91.7 billion in the 2008 fiscal year to 65.8 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, package shipments have been rising. This year, the Postal Service handled 3.7 billion of them, up from 3.1 billion in 2009.

Boeing letting states know as it narrows site for plane

Boeing says it has begun telling states whether they’re still in the running to build its new 777X.

Boeing has gotten proposals from 22 states covering 54 locations that all want to build the plane. Boeing says it is narrowing the list down and is telling each location its status in the process. Boeing isn’t releasing the list publicly.

The company says it expects to pick a location early in 2014.

— From news service reports