HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street finished its best week in more than two years, after getting a lift from June economic data. Manufacturing activity increased for the first time in four months. And General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reported double- digit sales increases.
The news sent the Dow Jones industrial average ahead by 168 points to close at 12,582. The Nasdaq rose 42 points to close at 2,816. For the week, the Dow gained five percent. The Nasdaq rose six percent.
Minnesota's state government was closed for business today. The shutdown began at midnight, after Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders failed to reach a budget deal. Dayton wants to raise taxes on high earners to close a $5 billion deficit. Republicans want more spending cuts. Many of the state's parks and campsites closed Friday, anticipating the shutdown. It meant that many holiday weekend visitors were turned away.
New abortion laws are being challenged in two states. A federal court in Kansas heard arguments today against a licensing law. The law says clinics must meet standards for room size, temperature, drugs, and equipment. Only one of the state's three clinics, a Planned Parenthood facility, has qualified.
Another federal judge temporarily blocked a new law in South Dakota. It requires a three-day waiting period and mandatory counseling for women seeking abortions.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has confirmed he is battling cancer. The 56-year-old socialist leader announced it last night in a televised address from Cuba. He had been in seclusion there, amid growing questions about his health. Chavez said he had a cancerous tumor removed, but he insisted he's doing better and that he is still in charge.
HUGO CHAVEZ, Venezuelan president (through translator): This is a major intervention, performed without complications, after which I continue recuperating while I keep receiving complementary therapies to combat the various types of cells found, and so continue on the path of my full recovery.
Meanwhile, I have been kept informed and in control of the actions of the Venezuelan government, in constant communication with the vice presidents and my team of government.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Chavez didn't say just when he would return home to Venezuela. He has been in power for 12 years, nationalizing much of the economy, and attacking U.S. policy in the region. He has said he would run again in 2012.
Greece today banned a flotilla from leaving port to sail to Gaza. The Greek coast guard turned back a boatload of Americans who did try to put to sea. Several hundred pro-Palestinian activists hope to use the group of nine ships to break an Israeli sea blockade. It was imposed after Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in 2007. Last year, an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla killed nine activists.
Those are some of the day's major stories.