Near record territory… A boost in consumer confidence… Burger King seeks growth

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are hovering near record territory in afternoon trading, a day after the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed just short of the 2,000-point milestone. Encouraging economic news helped set the major stock indexes on course to extend their prior-day’s gains.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index rose this month to the highest point in nearly seven years. Strong job gains helped boost the index, which has been rising for four months. A separate report showed that orders of durable manufactured goods surged by a record 22.6 percent in July, thanks to a jump in aircraft sales.

MIAMI (AP) — Burger King says overseas growth, not lower taxes, was the driving force behind its $11 billion deal to buy Canadian chain Tim Hortons. The corporate headquarters of the new company will be in Canada. Burger King stressed the deal wasn’t driven by a desire to take advantage of the country’s lower tax rates, but the international growth possibilities of Tim Hortons.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey of three dozen economists by The Associated Press suggests they are of two minds about the Federal Reserve. They agree with the Fed that the job market still isn’t healthy. But the survey finds that most economists fear the Fed will wait too long to raise interest rates and thereby risk stoking inflation or creating asset bubbles.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has picked a Connecticut official to run HealthCare.gov ahead of a second open enrollment season looming as a test of competence for the feds. Kevin Counihan (KOO’-ni-han) leads Access Health CT, a health insurance marketplace seen as a national model. The role of federal CEO is new, created to avoid a repeat of last year’s technical meltdown.

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