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Stocks Close Higher as Hope Rises for a Fiscal Cliff Deal

Stocks gained on signs that lawmakers are edging toward a deal that would help the U.S. avoid the "fiscal cliff." Indexes shrugged off an early loss and rose in afternoon trading Wednesday. The Dow closed up 106.98 points at 12,985.11. It had been down as much as 112 points in early trading.

The Least Loved Day is Also the Market's Worst

Monday is the only day the stock market is more likely to fall than to rise. The Dow Jones industrial average has been down 10 of the past 11 Mondays. And the two worst days in market history are both known as Black Monday.

Other Countries That Should Be Downgraded

As for downgrades, is the worst over for America? Standard & Poor's managing director John Chambers said just Sunday that another U.S. downgrade can't necessarily be ruled out. 24/7 Wall St. says the U.S. isn't the only country that should put on the watch list.

S&P Downgrades Ireland's Debt to A-

Standard & Poor's downgraded Ireland's debt rating by one notch on Wednesday due to concerns over possible increased capital requirements by the country's banks.

The Mortgage Mess: Blame Banks, Not Homeowners

After an exhaustive examination, DailyFinance's legal reporter comes to a clear verdict: Banks are responsible for 90% of the problem, homeowners 10%. Banks have done three things to create the massive glut of foreclosures choking America's legal systems and laying waste to its real estate markets.

Moody's, S&P May Downgrade U.S. Debt Rating

Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's are both considering downgrading their ratings on U.S. debt because of rising interest-to-revenue ratios, the nation's jobless recovery, and rising Social Security and health care costs, among other factors, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

S&P May Downgrade Portugal's Credit Rating

Portugal's credit rating may be on its way down. Standard & Poor's warned Tuesday that a downgrade may be coming based on the government's failure to create policies that will boost productivity and cut the country's deficit.

Beware: Credit Markets Are Getting Risky Again

Investors hungry for higher yields are flocking to the credit markets, putting junk-bond issuance on a record-setting pace. And lenders are loosening credit standards, while companies take on debt just because it's cheap. Here we go again?

S&P Keeps U.K. Sovereign Debt Rating at AAA

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed Engand's sovereign credit ratings Monday, but said its outlook remains negative. The pound sterling slipped against the dollar on the news, as S&P's outlook has been negative since May 2009.

Probe Into Big Banks Widens

Federal prosecutors are looking into whether banks misled investors about their roles in mortgage-bond deals. Targeted banks include Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS. At the same time, New York's Attorney General is launching a separate probe of whether some banks misled ratings agencies.

Double Dip in Home Prices Likely in 2010

Overall U.S. home values declined again in the fourth quarter of 2009. And while prices in some markets appear to have hit bottom, values are slipping again in many parts of the country, even in some areas that had seen several months of gains.

S&P Warns Japan of a Downgrade

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's says it may downgrade Japan's current AA sovereign debt to AA-. S&P has officially changed its outlook on Japan's debt from stable to negative. And Japan is a canary in the credit coal mine for the U.S. and U.K.

October Home Prices Offer Hope and Caution

The rate of decline for house prices has stalled, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Index of home sale prices in 20 U.S. cities. The report for October shows prices in 13 cities remained almost flat. Seven had month-over-month gains, and all 20 continue to show improvement on a year-over-year basis. Still, the worst may not be over yet.

Biotechs That Could Thrive with Health Reform

If the health care bills in Congress become law, the biotech sector may become one of the biggest beneficiaries. Standard & Poor's identifies six stocks and mutual funds that stand to benefit the most from the changes.

Bullish Reports See Stocks, Dividends Rising in 2010

If two new reports are accurate, investors have something to cheer about heading into 2010. Goldman Sachs strategists predict the Standards and Poors index will rise by another 13 percent. Meanwhile, some analysts predict that dividend payouts will rise by as much as 8.9 percent.