KWAME HOLMAN: Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney picked up a surprise endorsement today. Real estate mogul Donald Trump backed Romney after initial reports said he would endorse Newt Gingrich.
The announcement came at Trump's hotel in Las Vegas.
DONALD TRUMP, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts: Mitt is tough, he's smart, he's sharp. He's not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love.
So, Gov. Romney, go out and get them. You can do it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KWAME HOLMAN: Trump had flirted with a presidential bid of his own last spring, and at one point, polls showed him at the top of the presidential -- of the Republican field for president.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve got sharp questions today about the Fed's decision to keep interest rates at record lows for three more years. Ben Bernanke was challenged mostly by Republicans at a House Budget Committee hearing.
Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said the Fed's policy could spark inflation and hurt growth.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis.: The Fed announced that it's going to continue to hold interest rates at extremely low levels through 2014. I think this policy runs the great risk of fueling asset bubbles, destabilizing prices and eventually eroding the value of the dollar. The prospect of all three is adding to uncertainty and holding our economy back, in many of our judgments.
KWAME HOLMAN: Bernanke defended the Fed's actions. He said the Central Bank is trying to boost the economy and bring down unemployment while inflation is at bay. And in his opening statement, he warned lawmakers not to cut federal spending so much that it hurts the economy.
BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: Even as fiscal policy-makers address the urgent issue of fiscal sustainability, they should take care not to unnecessarily impede the current economic recovery.
Fortunately, the two goals of achieving long-term fiscal sustainability and avoiding additional fiscal headwinds for the current recovery are fully compatible. Indeed, they are mutually reinforcing.
KWAME HOLMAN: In other economic news, first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped last week. Tomorrow, the government releases the unemployment numbers for January.
And on Wall Street, stocks marked time, waiting for that jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 11 points to close at 12,705. The Nasdaq rose 11 points to close at 2,859.
Two of the most-wanted terror suspects in Southeast Asia reportedly were killed today in the Philippines. The country's military said they died in an airstrike on a southern island. Those killed included Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan. He's a top leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network. Authorities also confirmed the death of Umbra Jumdail, leader of the Abu Sayyaf militant group. The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward on Marwan.
Legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee has died. He passed away last night at his home in Tampa, Fla. Dundee trained Muhammad Ali for most of Ali's career, including the classic Thrilla in Manila bout against Joe Frazier in 1975. Dundee had recently attended Ali's 70th birthday party. In all, Dundee spent more than 60 years in boxing and also trained boxing greats George Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard. Angelo Dundee was 90 years old.
Those are some of the day's major stories.