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S&P Touches Highest Level Since 2008, Then Falls

The Standard & Poor's 500 index is closing lower after hitting a four-year high. The S&P 500 lost five points to close at 1,413. The index had climbed to 1,426 in morning trading, its highest since May 19, 2008.

5 Ways Europe's Woes Will Hit Your Finances in 2012

By most indications, the U.S. economy is recovering fairly well for the time being. But across the Pond in Europe, another story is unfolding that has the stock market worried -- and it should have your attention, too.

The Financial Landscape: Is Italy the Next Greece?

As the eurozone sovereign debt crisis continues, focus is shifting to Italy as the next potential victim. But for worries closer to home, consider this: $37 billion in U.S. government benefits designed to help people through the downturn will expire by the end of 2011, leaving a hole twice that size in the economy.

Financial Landscape: DSK Case and Portugal Get Shakier

Portugal's economic health is at risk of collapse after Moody's cut its rating of the country's debt to junk status. Also at risk of collapse: The case against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn after The New York Post reported that his accuser was working two jobs -- as a maid and a prostitute.

The Financial Landscape: Dollar Losing Favor, Economy Losing Steam

The long term isn't looking good for the greenback: Central bank managers don't see it keeping its status as the world's reserve currency. The short term's not looking so hot for the U.S. economy either: Housing prices are down another 4% year over year, and confidence is falling.

The Financial Landscape: Gas Is Falling; Euro is Failing

Even before the International Energy Agency and the White House announced they were releasing billions of gallons or oil from fuel reserves, gas prices were falling. In the past two weeks, a gallon is down more than 11 cents. Also falling -- hopes for the euro, and the outlook for U.S. Treasury bonds.

The Financial Landscape: No Bailout Yet for Greece

The financial world Monday morning is focused on Greece. E.U. finance ministers postponed agreement on a bailout until they see proof that its government will follow through on austerity measures. Meanwhile, some big U.S. firms say that a generous tax break would help them expand their domestic operations.

Why the European Debt Crisis Is Far From Over

The European debt crisis is back: Portugal is in political turmoil, and may need a major bailout, and Spain may too. But the E.U.'s strong healthy are rebelling against propping up their weaker neighbors. The real issue, though, is that the E.U. hasn't yet addressed the fundamental flaw built into it at the euro's creation.

Bucking a Trend: Why the Dollar Could Rally in 2011

Despite all the headwinds blowing against it -- and they're fierce -- the U.S. dollar has been holding its own against the world's major currencies. And if the U.S. recovery remains on track, the greenback has good odds of actually strengthening in 2011.

IMF Lays Out the Challenges Ahead for Global Recovery

In its latest report, the IMF applauds national policymakers for stabilizing credit markets and putting the global economy on a recovery track. However, thorny problems remain -- including how to prevent overheating in emerging markets, and how to cut the U.S. deficit while lowering its unemployment rate.

U.S. Stocks Get a Lift From Portugal and the Dollar

Stocks closed broadly higher Wednesday after Portugal's government had no trouble in tapping global debt markets, helping ease European debt fears. The euro gained at the dollar's expense, which lifted a broad basket of commodities as well as U.S. equities.

Currency Wars Are Heating Up Across Latin America

Emerging market countries, especially those in Latin America, are gearing up for a potentially damaging round of currency interventions to help keep their economies competitive. "This is a currency war that is turning into a trade war," says Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega.

If These Big Names Are Right, Brace for Rising Rates

When pros like Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs start making moves predicated on the expectation of higher rates, investors best take note. And if those smart-money bets are based on a strengthening U.S. economy, the impact on markets could be widespread.

A Rising Dollar and Cooling China Will Pop the Commodities Bubble

The dollar is looking mighty attractive, thanks to a reviving U.S. economy and eurozone woes, and it will only get stronger as traders who gambled that it would fall buy dollars to unwind their bad bets. Add in China's desperate need to get its overheated economy in check, and commodities prices look like they have nowhere to go but down.

Sweden's Central Bank Is Fighting the Next Bubble

While most of the world's central banks are still fighting the last war, Sweden's Riksbank has moved on to the next one. Rather than looking at conventional inflation gauges, the world's oldest central bank is basing its actions on asset-price growth in an effort to prevent the next bubble.

China Stole the Show in 2010. Next Year May Be Tougher

While the U.S. struggled with near-10% unemployment, China grew at that same pace over the past year. But the country faces massive internal problems that leave it in a far more difficult situation than the praise constantly heaped on it implies.

Stocks Vault on Job Gains and Global Data

The Dow jumped skyward on Wednesday as stocks rallied around the globe on a stream of strong economic news, both abroad and in the U.S. A less anxious outlook for European sovereign debt also helped.

Spain to Sell Stake in State Lottery as Debt Crisis Looms

With the fears of a European sovereign debt crisis growing worse, the Spanish government said Wednesday that it's taking several measures to stop the fiscal contagion from reaching its shores, including selling a 30% stake in its national lottery business, Bloomberg reported.