KWAME HOLMAN: A wave of bombings in Iraq killed at least 78 people today. It was the second such large-scale attack since U.S. troops withdrew last month. The bombing struck mostly at Shiites in Baghdad and in southern Iraq in the run-up to a Shiite holy day. More than 100 people were wounded.
In U.S. economic news, the job market showed sign — more signs of improvement today. The Labor Department reported first-time claims for jobless benefits were down for the fourth time in five weeks. They’re now at a level that usually signals a drop in unemployment. The overall employment numbers for December come out tomorrow.
On Wall Street, stocks struggled to hold their own, as worries over European banks competed with the jobs numbers. The Dow Jones industrial average lost two points to close at 12,415. The Nasdaq rose 21 points to close above 2,669.
The government of Myanmar announced today that the party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to run in upcoming elections. It was the new regime’s latest step toward political reforms, after years of military rule in the country once known as Burma.
Suu Kyi welcomed the development, but also cautioned that progress remains fragile.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI, National League for Democracy Party: I wouldn’t say that there are many dangers, but I wouldn’t say it’s unstoppable either. I think there are obstacles and I think there are some dangers that we have to look out for.
Mainly, I think I’m concerned about how much support there is in the military for the changes. In the end, that’s the most important factor. How far are the military prepared to cooperate with the reform process?
KWAME HOLMAN: Suu Kyi would not say if she will compete for a seat in parliament in the April election.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.