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Friday, December 19, 2014

Tech Whiz Snags Beverly Hills' Priciest Home (Newser Happy Hour 6-pack)

Newser Alert
The day's six most popular stories, in time to unwind.

Tech Whiz Snags Beverly Hills' Priciest Home

Tech Whiz Snags Beverly Hills' Priciest Home

(Newser) - It's the most expensive home ever sold in Beverly Hills: a 23,000-square-foot mansion with eight bedrooms, 15 bathrooms featuring $5,600 toilets, an 18-seat theater, fountains controlled by iPad, vodka and tequila bars, and something called a "candy room." But the $70 million home wasn't... More  »

8 Kids Found Dead in Australian Home

8 Kids Found Dead in Australian Home

(Newser) - Another tragedy in Australia: Eight children were found stabbed to death at a home in a Cairns suburb today, police say. The children were between 18 months and 15 years in age, reports the Sydney Morning Herald . Seven of them are believed to have been siblings, and their mother was... More  »

How PayPal's Founder Plans to Live to 120

How PayPal's Founder Plans to Live to 120

(Newser) - PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel hopes to stick around to enjoy a fortune estimated by Forbes at $2.2 billion into the 2080s at least. The venture capitalist and Facebook investor, 47, says he "certainly hopes to" live to 120 and is already taking steps to help him get there.... More  »

Stephen Colbert Gets Massive Send-Off

Stephen Colbert Gets Massive Send-Off

(Newser) - Think of any celebrity and there's a pretty good chance they dropped in on Stephen Colbert's send-off from The Colbert Report last night. The dozens of guests included Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Daniels, Katie Couric, Michael Stipe, George Lucas, Henry Kissinger, Big Bird, and even Mike Huckabee, reports Mediaite... More  »

Kepler 'Rises From the Ashes,' Finds a 'Super-Earth'

Kepler 'Rises From the Ashes,' Finds a 'Super-Earth'

(Newser) - The Kepler spacecraft has had its shares of ups and downs since its 2009 launch. The downs have included a 2013 mechanical failure that left Kepler supposedly "beyond repair" . The ups have included a "resourceful strategy" that made use of pressure from sunlight to allow Kepler to be... More  »

Slender Man Suspects Ruled Fit for Trial

Slender Man Suspects Ruled Fit for Trial

(Newser) - Two Wisconsin girls who allegedly stabbed a classmate 19 times to please the "Slender Man" fictional online character are competent to stand trial, a judge has decided. Both girls, who were 12 when they allegedly tried to kill another 12-year-old girl after a sleepover, have been charged as adults.... More  »


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December 19, 2014


Stocks gained ground on Friday to finish a wild week that saw the S&P 500 gain almost 100 points from the close of trade Tuesday to the close on Friday. Late in the day on Friday, the S&P 500 peaked above its all-time closing high, but closed off this level, though each of the three major US indexes gained more than 2% on the week. 

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,804.8. +26.6, (+0.1%)
  • S&P 500: 2,070.6, +9.4, (+0.4%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,765.4, +17, (+0.4%)

And now, the top stories on Friday:

1. Stocks rose for the third straight day and the S&P 500 went just below an all-time high on Friday. In an email on Friday afternoon, the NYSE's Rich Barry captured the mood on the exchange floor, writing: "After a whopping 4.5% rally in just two days - the best 2-day rally in over three years - what can the market possibly do for an encore?! Finish out the last full week of the year with a bang? Set a single-day volume record in light of today's quad-witch/index re-balancings?? At this point, anything is possible, but we still believe this market has some room to go higher." And higher the market went. 

2. Friday also marked a "quadruple witching," as expirations for stock index options, stock index futures, single stock options, and single-stock futures all expired on Friday. As a result, volume was heavy on the NYSE, with Barry noting that volume on Friday was 232% higher than its three-month average. 

3. Oil rallied on Friday, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures gaining more than 5% at one point to nearly $59 a barrel. The rally in oil came as the commodity remains at the center of the market's attention. The number of US oil rigs in operation, however, declined again last week, according to the latest report from Baker Hughes. Baker Hughes said that US rigs in operation fell by 18 to 1,875 after last week showed that 27 rigs fell out of operation, which was the biggest weekly drop in almost two years. 

4. And while things calmed down a bit in US markets, the global economy, particularly for countries tied to oil, remains unsettled. On Friday, the Nigerian central bank imposed capital controls, limiting currency dealers in the country from depositing funds overnight, preventing after-hours trading and bets placed for or against a single currency.

5. The biggest headlines on Friday were away from the stock market, as the FBI officially blamed North Korea for the Sony hack that has lead, among other things, to Sony canceling the premier of the movie "The Interview." In a news conference on Friday, president Obama said the hack "caused a lot of damage, and we will respond." Business Insider's Military & Defense staff has the breakdown of the various options the White House now must weigh. 

Don't Miss: Howard Marks Gives A Crystal-Clear Explanation Of How Oil Prices Work »

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Culture Beast: Stephen Colbert’s Sublime and Truthy Finale

The Daily Beast
December 19

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Stephen Colbert's Sublime & Truthy End
The man behind the desk is a fictional character—a ferocious patriot exposing the limits of rigid ideology. But the real Colbert has always been on that stage, too. By Noel Murray
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Sony Put Kim Jong Un In 'The Interview'
Hacked emails also reveal that Sony execs didn't take the threat from North Korea seriously, and that a CIA agent and a former Hillary Clinton aide looked at the film's script. By William Boot
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Ava DuVernay on 'Selma,' Sony, and Race
The director of the powerful Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma sat down to discuss the film, as well as race in America and Hollywood. By Marlow Stern
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So did Adnan do it? For the podcast listeners salivating for a tidy conclusion to Serial, that's not what you'll get.”


Nicki Minaj Bares Her Own Vulnerability
The Pinkprint holds the weight of watching a relationship crumble; where some have public meltdowns and volleys of badmouthing, Nicki Minaj has her punchlines, flows, and 'an empire also.' By Rawiya Kameir
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Biggest Bombs of the Year
It was the year no one wanted to see Cameron Diaz have sex, everyone cringed at Mariah Carey's singing, and everyone threw out their TVs after the 'How I Met Your Mother' finale. By Kevin Fallon
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The Stars You'll Idolize in 2015
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New York SantaCon 2014

In response to Why Didn't Camille Dump Bill Cosby?:

She likes being Mrs. Bill Cosby. Denial is the greatest enabler.

— AC_917

In response to Grief: The Real Monster in The Babadook:

loved this movie - it's hitting on all cylinders. thoughtful, suspenseful, beautiful, and very well acted. a satisfying viewing experience.

— hinfovoter

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