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Stocks moving higher...CEOs optimistic on sales...Insurers ward of rising premiums

Wednesday - 3/13/2013, 3:38pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are moving higher on Wall Street after an unexpectedly strong increase in U.S. consumer spending last month. The Commerce Department reported retail spending rose 1.1 percent last month compared with January. The Dow has been about 10 to 20 points higher this afternoon, while the broader indexes are also seeing small gains.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new survey of corporate CEOs finds growing optimism about sales. The Business Roundtable says 72 percent of its members expect sales will increase in the next six months, and 38 percent plan to invest more in plant and equipment. However, the jobs picture looks about the same, with 29 percent of CEOs surveyed planning to boost hiring over the next six months.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is meeting with House Republicans this afternoon. He tells ABC News he's looking to identify what he describes as a "common-sense caucus" that might be able to crack Washington's gridlock over the budget and other matters. Ahead of the meeting, House Budget Committee Paul Ryan said if the president doesn't like his plan he should offer his own. Ryan's budget includes a repeal of Obama's health care law, and changes to Medicare that would shift more of the cost to future patients.

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet has approved a draft budget plan that would see the government getting by without new borrowing in 2015. The German finance minister says Germany the plan shows economic growth and tackling deficits aren't mutually exclusive and sends "a strong signal" to Europe ahead of this week's EU summit.

UNDATED (AP) -- The nation's big health insurers are warning that premiums could double for millions of Americans next year as key provisions of the Affordable Care Act roll out. They say across-the-board rate hikes will not hit everyone, but roughly 14 million people who buy their own insurance, rather than being covered by employer-sponsored plans, will see the biggest price hikes.

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