Money Minute: Washington Nears a Deal as Budget Battle Takes Toll on Jobs


A glimmer of light from Washington. That's just one of five money stories you'll need to know this Tuesday.

Leading senators are said to be this close to reaching a deal to temporarily ending the twin stalemates over the budget and debt ceiling. President Obama is likely to sign on if a deal is hammered out, but House Republicans could still block any plan from coming to a vote. And while the Senate plan would end the immediate threat to the economy, critics note that it simply kicks the issue down to road by just a few months, and we could be right back in the soup before the winter is over.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 64 points Monday, its fourth straight gain. Markets turned higher on word that lawmakers were closing in on a deal.

Economy (In this May 29, 2013 photo, job seeker Anu Vatal of Chicago, speaks with Patrice Tosi of BluePay, seated, during a care
M. Spencer Green/AP
A report from Macroeconomic Advisers says the crisis-driven government has cost the U.S. economy 900,000 jobs. It says the partisan battles in Washington threaten our economic recovery.

Americans view of the economy depends on how much they earn, and the gap is getting bigger. A survey by Goldman Sachs (GS) finds households making more than $90,000 a year are much more optimistic than those earning $50,000 or less. The wealthier group is more likely to own stocks and own their homes, both of which have increased in value over the past few years.
But the so-called wealth effect hasn't trickled down to others, creating a lack of confidence that could hurt consumer spending as we head into the holiday shopping season.

Amtrak says its nationwide ridership hit an all-time high in its recently completed fiscal year. The railroad carried 31.6 million riders during the year. More than a third of them traveled along the busy Northeast corridor from Washington to Boston, despite the disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy.

And the Wall Street Journal reports several major drug companies are developing new ways for the body's own immune system to attack cancer cells. Bristol-Myers (BMY), Merck (MRK), Roche and others stand to make billions if their new immunotherapy treatments live up to the results of clinical trials so far, extending the life of some cancer patients by several years.

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