Morning Business Memo…
Wall Street's first day of trading for 2013 brought the biggest gains in more than a year for the Dow Jones index - up 308 points. Other averages rose after the fiscal cliff deal in Congress. Ten stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. But don't expect the euphoria to continue. The ratings firm Moody's says Congress must go beyond its latest deal and come up with a plan to shrink the deficit if it wants to keep the current credit grade. Moody's has a negative outlook on the government's debt. Congress put off tough decisions on spending cuts that would be aimed at reducing sky-high deficits.
The outlook for savers and investors? "I think you should prepare for a lot of volatility in the coming six months," says Susan Schmidt of Mesirow Financial. Economist Diane Swonk agrees, saying the deal in Congress "was just one small step, one toe in what is going to be very turbulent waters for the next several; months."
One of the biggest personal finance changes for many Americans over the next year will involve health care. In 2013 we'll learn a lot more about how President Obama's health reform law will effect consumers. "Most big changes will start to be seen late next year," Susan Dentzer, editor in chief of the journal Health Affairs, tells ABC News Radio. "In October open enrollment period begins for people who are going to be eligible to buy coverage through new health insurance exchanges." Health exchanges will cover people who don't have coverage today. "There could be as many as 30 million Americans covered under these new arrangements," says Dentzer. "People will be able to sign up at that point for Medicaid as well. The coverage will actually take effect in January of 2014."
Better latte than never? Starbucks is now selling cheap, reusable plastic cups at all its US stores. Every time you bring a $1 cup back Starbucks baristas will rinse it with boiling water and then give you a ten cent discount on your coffee. The aim is reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. USA Today reports: "Thousands of people have signed petitions on Change.org, a website promoting social change, urging companies to promote reusable options and abandon polystyrene foam packaging, which is rarely recycled."
The Arabic-owned news channel Al-Jazeera is buying Current TV, extending Al Jazeera's reach beyond a few large US cities to about 40 million homes. Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar and is one of the world's largest international news channels. Current cofounders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt say Current was built with goals that are compatible with Al-Jazeera's, including giving "voice to those who are not typically heard," providing independent and diverse points of view" and telling "the stories that no one else is telling."
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc