Jan. 10 - Summary of business headlines: S&P 500 is back at five-year peak after China, U.S. data inspires confidence; American Express to cut 5,400 jobs; Wal-Mart knew of Mexico bribes -U.S. lawmakers; Obama names Treasury pick. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street is split for the week - two days up, two days down. The market's biggest gains in a week pushed the S&P 500 to a new five-year high. Stronger-than-expected export data out of China gave investors a reason to worry less about the health of the world's second largest economy. As for the world's leading economy, a recovery in the U.S labor market is on track. New filings for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the prior week's gain was reversed down. Meantime, job openings for November were unchanged, according to separate data. Not flat - sales at wholesalers up the most in a year-and-a-half in November. On the corporate front: American Express is cutting jobs. The credit card company says its payroll will be as much as 6 percent smaller by the end of this year. Amex currently has a staff of more than 63,000. Card spending is up, however; up 8 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same time the year before. Revenues overall - up 5 percent and net profits topped forecasts Wal-Mart executives knew about Mexican bribes dating back to 2005, according to U.S. lawmakers, pointing to email evidence. The emails appear to contradict public statements and suggest CEO Mike Duke was aware of the bribes. Lawmakers said Wal-Mart's lawyers did not dispute the authenticity of the emails. Sticking with retail - there were flaws in Tiffany's holiday sales. The high-end jeweler saw flat global same-store sales in November and December. Jack Lew. That's a name you may hear a lot of - because he's President Obama's pick for the next U.S. Treasury Secretary. Lew's biggest task: getting the White House through an upcoming fight to lift the debt limit. In Europe, Swatch said it expects export growth of its high-end watches to basically be cut in half, if not more this year. That hurt luxury stocks across the board, leading to declines in Germany and France. Stocks in London squeezed out a gain.