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December 31, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel
NEW YORK - Wall Street closed out an epic year with the stock market's best performance since 1995, fattening the retirement accounts for a generation of Americans crushed by the financial crisis just five years ago. The 27% gain in the Dow Jones industrial average enabled investors to recoup the last of the losses suffered during the Great Recession, when the value of America's blue-chip stocks was slashed in half. And analysts are predicting that stocks will continue their upward march in 2014, though perhaps not at such a breakneck pace.
December 30, 2013 | By Evan Halper
WASHINGTON - Jennifer Tadlock doesn't yet have all the talent lined up for the small-budget dramatic action feature she hopes to film next year, let alone a full crew. But she does have a tax break, and it's expiring, which was enough to get her behind the camera last month. Tadlock spent about $500 to hire a skeletal crew and nonunion talent to film just one scene near her home in Fresno. "We did the makeup ourselves," she said. The scene, involving teenagers plotting to harass an elderly woman, may never appear in the final cut. But by shooting this year, Tadlock hopes to lock in place the tax break that was key for investors who put up the $6 million she'll need to shoot "Shades of Grace" for real next year.
December 30, 2013 | Times wire services
Dallas billionaire and heavyweight GOP political donor Harold Simmons, who gave tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has died. He was 82. Simmons, born to two school teachers in East Texas, became one of the richest men in the country with interests ranging from energy to chemicals. His spokesman Chuck McDonald said Simmons died Saturday in Dallas but did not disclose the cause. Simmons made his fortune as a Texas corporate raider nicknamed the "Ice Man" after structuring leveraged takeover bids using junk bonds in the 1970s and '80s.
December 29, 2013 | By Kenneth R. Harney
WASHINGTON - An important resource for first-time home buyers and others who find themselves in unfair competition with deep-pocket investors bearing cash just got better: The two biggest players in the mortgage market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are now giving non-investor shoppers 20-day exclusive rights to bid on and buy new listings they are selling. During the 20-day "first look" period, investors will be excluded from submitting bids. To qualify, non-investor buyers will need to commit to making the home their principal residence for at least a year.
December 27, 2013 | By Tom Petruno
Wall Street had plenty of reasons to think 2013 would go miserably for the stock market - what with a lackluster global economy, the U.S. government shutdown, Syria's civil war, the Obamacare fiasco and Miley Cyrus. Instead, we're on track for a 29% gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which would be its best annual showing since 1997. So the highlight of the year for many Americans will be the repair job on their retirement savings accounts. But taking a broader view, here are six 2013 market memories that should endure: • Ma and Pa come back to stocks.
December 24, 2013 | By Daniel Miller
Where movie studios see trouble, Red Granite Pictures sees opportunities. The new finance and distribution company's business plan is both contrary and simple: Make the films the studios don't. Among its first projects are Martin Scorsese's “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which comes out Wednesday, and next year's “Dumb and Dumber To,” the intentionally misspelled sequel to the 1994 comedy. On the surface, those pictures don't exactly seem like the sort that a major studio would cast aside.
December 23, 2013 | By Jessica Guynn
SAN FRANCISCO -- Veteran technology investor Tim Draper wants to reboot California. He held a news conference on Monday to talk up his proposal to split California into six states, including one called Silicon Valley. "Something is not working in our state, and I'm convinced it's with our existing system. It's untenable and ungovernable," Draper said. The idea of redrawing the map of California has been met with plenty of scorn and skepticism. No one other than Draper has come out in favor of it. And Draper is 1 million signatures away from getting it on the ballot.
December 21, 2013 | By Jessica Guynn
SAN FRANCISCO -- Technology investor Tim Draper is trying to drum up support to split California into six states, one of them being Silicon Valley. His argument for redrawing the California map: The state is underrepresented in Washington. He's looking to get an initiative on the California ballot. He told TechCrunch: “It is about time California was properly represented with senators in Washington. Now our number of senators per person will be about average.” California has a long history of secessionist fervor.
December 18, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel
NEW YORK - The long-feared tapering of economic stimulus by the Federal Reserve powered the stock market to its latest record high as investors rejoiced at the prospect of stronger growth next year. The Dow Jones industrial average catapulted nearly 300 points in the third-largest point gain for the blue-chip index this year. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index also closed at a record high. Investors were in a buying mood after the Fed announced a modest $10-billion-a-month reduction in its bond-buying program.
December 18, 2013 | By Stuart Pfeifer
A year ago, activist investor Bill Ackman rocked Wall Street with a $1-billion bet that shares of Herbalife Ltd., the Los Angeles seller of weight-loss and nutrition products, would slide to zero. Herbalife was a "pyramid scheme," bound to be undone by regulators and destroyed, he told the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets Dec. 19. Herbalife shares plummeted 42% in the next five days, hitting a midday low of $24.24 on Christmas Eve. At the time, it seemed that 2013 would be difficult for Herbalife.
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