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Latest Articles: Business

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Crude Oil Rises Most in More Than 3 Years
Post Date: 2012-06-29 21:03:07 by Brian S
The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities jumped 5.4 percent to 598.39 at 3:30 p.m. New York time as oil rose the most in three years after European leaders reached an agreement to ease repayment rules for Spanish banks and relax conditions on help for Italy. The UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 raw materials rose 4.1 percent to 1,486.717. CRUDE OIL Oil gained the most in more than three years on the European agreement. Futures rose 9.4 percent, trimming the biggest quarterly decline since the final three months of 2008, as leaders of the 17 euro countries dropped requirements that taxpayers get preferred creditor status on aid to Spain’s banks. Prices also increased ...

Business Activity in U.S. Unexpectedly Grew at a Faster Pace
Post Date: 2012-06-29 12:42:27 by Brian S
Business activity in the U.S. unexpectedly expanded in June at a faster pace as production and employment rebounded. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its business activity barometer increased to 52.9 from 52.7 in May. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between growth and contraction. Economists projected the purchasing managers’ gauge would decline to 52.3, according to the median of 51 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The report contrasts with other regional figures this month that showed manufacturing was cooling. The industry is holding steady even as the fallout of the European debt crisis limits orders and anxiety over the so-called fiscal cliff ...

Drought Seen Rivaling 1980s U.S. Scorcher That Cost $78 Billion
Post Date: 2012-06-27 11:50:17 by Brian S
The drought in the U.S. Midwest that has pushed up corn prices 23 percent since June 15 may eventually rival a dry period in 1988 that cost agriculture $78 billion, a government meteorologist said. This year’s weather pattern, which settled into the Great Plains and the Southwest last year and has spread into the Corn Belt, resembles those of a quarter century ago and several earlier eras, Matthew Rosencrans, a drought specialist with the National Weather Service, said today at a forum in Washington. “We already have the dry conditions,” said Rosencrans, a contributor to the government’s weekly drought monitor. The drought that ran through 1987 and 1988 “will come ...

Durable Goods Orders Rebound, Led By Cars And Planes
Post Date: 2012-06-27 11:40:53 by Brian S
By msnbc.com staff and news wires New orders for products ranging from refrigerators to airplanes rose in May, bouncing back from two consecutive monthly decreases, government data showed Wednesday. The Commerce Department reported that orders for goods meant to last more than three years increased 1.1 percent last month, after a revised 0.2 percent decrease in April. The rise in orders last month raises hopes that the recovery still has some strength left, but concerns remain that a slowing global economy will stifle orders in future months. "It was better than expected, which is surprising to see since recent economic reports have been less positive. I'm still concerned ...

U.S. Pending Home Sales Up in May, Highest Levels in Two Years
Post Date: 2012-06-27 11:39:14 by Brian S
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), pending home sales bounced back in May, matching the highest level in the past two years, and are well above year-ago levels. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 5.9 percent to 101.1 in May from 95.5 in April and is 13.3 percent above May 2011 when it was 89.2. The data reflect contracts but not closings. The index also reached 101.1 in March, which is the highest level since April 2010 when buyers were rushing to beat the deadline for the home buyer tax credit. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said longer term comparisons are more relevant. "The housing market is ...

US New-Home Sales Rose At Fastest Pace In 2 Years
Post Date: 2012-06-26 12:20:22 by Brian S
WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans bought new homes in May at the fastest pace in more than two years. The increase suggests a modest recovery is continuing in the U.S. housing market, despite weaker job growth. The Commerce Department said Monday that sales of new homes increased 7.6 percent in May from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 homes. That's the best pace since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit. Even with the gains, the annual sales pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists consider to be healthy. Yet the increase follows other signs that show the housing market is slowly improving nearly five ...

Corn Prices Skyrocket As Heat Wave Threatens Crop
Post Date: 2012-06-26 12:04:00 by Brian S
Corn prices are skyrocketing as severe heat bakes crops in the Midwest. December corn jumped 7.2 percent Monday to finish at $5.94 per bushel. The searing heat comes during a critical pollination period for corn, which is eroding some of the advantage farmers had hoped for when they planted the crop early because of a mild spring. The potential for a smaller corn harvest is driving up the price of wheat on expectations that demand will pick up because wheat also can be used to feed livestock. Soybeans are forecast to remain in tight supply, particularly if dry weather continues. Gold for August delivery gained $21.50 to finish at $1,588.40 an ounce, July silver rose 85.9 cents, or ...

Texas Grid Sets June Power Record, Urges Conservation
Post Date: 2012-06-26 11:58:52 by Brian S
(Reuters) - Texas power use peaked on Monday afternoon at a higher level than in any previous June even as the state urged consumers to limit appliance use to avoid straining power plants, as much of the state broiled under triple-digit temperatures. Power demand reached 65,047 megawatts in the hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. CDT (2200 GMT), surpassing the June record of 63,102 MW set last year, according to preliminary grid data. Real-time power prices briefly exceeded $100 per megawatt-hour Monday afternoon and next-day power prices in the state traded between $165 and $175 per megawatt-hour, down several dollars from Monday's trades. The extreme heat hit Sunday when the mercury hit ...

Home Prices Rise In April In Nearly All Major Us Cities, A Sign Housing Is Slowly Recovering
Post Date: 2012-06-26 11:28:31 by Brian S
WASHINGTON — Home prices rose in nearly all major U.S. cities in April from March, further evidence of a housing market that is slowly improving even while the job market slumps. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday showed increases in 19 of the 20 cities tracked. That’s the second straight month that prices have risen in a majority of U.S. cities. Obama administration struggles to help homeowners: A look at the Obama administration’s efforts in trying to help homeowners and bring the nation out of its housing slump. And a measure of national prices rose 1.3 percent in April from March, the first increase in seven months. ...

Made in China Not Worth Hassle for Small Firms Returning to U.S.
Post Date: 2012-06-22 11:23:10 by Brian S
When Sonja Zozula and Jerry Anderson founded LightSaver Technologies Inc. in 2009, everyone told them they should make their emergency lights for homeowners in China. After two years of outsourcing to factories there, last winter they shifted production to Carlsbad, California, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from their home in San Clemente. “It’s probably 30 percent cheaper to manufacture in China,” Anderson says. Besides hassles including shipping, “it’s a question of, ‘How do I value my time at three in the morning when I have to talk to China?’” he says. As costs in China rise and owners consider the challenges of using factories 12,000 ...

U.S. House Prices Rise in April for a Third Month, FHFA Says
Post Date: 2012-06-21 11:34:44 by Brian S
U.S. house prices rose 0.8 percent in April from the previous month, the third straight advance, as the property market shows signs of stabilization, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said. The increase beat the 0.4 percent gain that was the average estimate of 19 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Prices jumped 3 percent from a year earlier, the FHFA said in a statement today. Job gains, low interest rates and a tight supply of homes for sale are boosting property prices following the worst slump since the Great Depression. Home seizures in May fell 18 percent from a year earlier even as initial notices of default rose, a sign that banks are turning to alternatives to foreclosures that ...

New Home Construction Up In May And Permits Are Highest Since 2008
Post Date: 2012-06-19 12:32:34 by Brian S
A sign that the economy is improving is that new home starts increased 3.2% in May and applications for permits for new homes and apartments increased 7.9% and are at the highest level in since September 2008. The Census Bureau released the May data this morning. The government also said April was much better for housing starts than first thought. The government revised the April starts to 744,000 — up from an initially reported 717,000 and the fastest building pace since October 2008. Although single family housing starts were up 4.8% in May and 28.8% over last year, total starts were down because new apartment starts dropped in May. Month to month variations in apartments starts ...

U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Climbs to Five-Year High in NAHB’s June Index
Post Date: 2012-06-18 12:04:31 by Brian S
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders climbed in June to a five-year high, indicating a brighter outlook for residential construction. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo confidence index rose to 29, the highest since May 2007, from a revised 28 in May that was lower than first estimated, a report from the Washington-based group showed today. The gauge exceeded the median estimate of 28 in a Bloomberg News survey. Readings below 50 mean more respondents said conditions were poor. “This month’s modest uptick in builder confidence comes on the heels of a four-point gain in May and is reflective of the continued, gradual improvement we are seeing,” Barry ...

Truckers as Leading Indicator Show Stable U.S. Economic Growth
Post Date: 2012-06-14 12:27:49 by Brian S
Rising truck shipments show the U.S. economic expansion is intact, even amid concerns that a slowdown in retail sales and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis could stall growth. Two measures of trucking activity signal the industry remains steady and has even “firmed up” since mid-May, according to Ben Hartford, an analyst in Milwaukee with Robert W. Baird & Co. The data complement anecdotal information from carriers that freight demand ended May on a strong note after more weakness than anticipated earlier in the month, he said. “Trucking trends are reflective of an economic environment that is stable, not deteriorating,” Hartford said. The for-hire truck-tonnage ...

Americans See Biggest Home Equity Jump in 60 Years
Post Date: 2012-06-14 12:08:25 by Brian S
Americans are digging themselves out of mortgage debt. Home equity in the first quarter rose to $6.7 trillion, the highest level since 2008 as homeowners taking advantage of record-low borrowing costs to refinance their loans brought cash to the table to pay down principal. The gain in percentage terms was the biggest jump in more than 60 years, according to an analysis by Bloomberg of Federal Reserve data. It’s the strongest sign yet that Americans’ home-loan debt burden is beginning to ease after the record borrowing that created, and ultimately popped, the housing bubble, leaving almost a quarter of homeowners with mortgages owing more than their properties were worth, said ...

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rises for Fourth Consecutive Week
Post Date: 2012-06-14 12:03:24 by Brian S
Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rises for Fourth Consecutive Week By Michelle Jamrisko - 2012-06-14T13:45:00Z Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed for the fourth straight week as more Americans said their personal finances were improving. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to minus 36.4 in the week ended June 10, the highest level since late April, from minus 37.6 the prior period. Each of its three components -- the economy, finances and buying plans -- advanced. “It is likely a function of the steady drop in gasoline prices,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. “Households feel a bit more comfortable ...

Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Reveals Increase in U.S. Employers' Hiring Plans for the Third Quarter
Post Date: 2012-06-12 12:51:15 by Brian S
MILWAUKEE, June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Hiring confidence among U.S. employers continues to inch up as all states, regions and industries surveyed report a positive Net Employment Outlook, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released today by ManpowerGroup. The seasonally adjusted survey results show the Net Employment Outlook for Quarter 3 2012 is +11%, slightly up from +10% during Quarter 2 2012 and +8% during the same period last year. U.S. Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Results Quarter % Increase Staff Levels % Decrease Staff Levels % No Change in Staff Levels % Don't Know Hiring Plans Net Employment ...

Pink Slime No Brake to Beef Rally as U.S. Herd Contracts To 1952 Levels
Post Date: 2012-06-12 12:08:56 by Brian S
The U.S. cattle herd has shrunk to the smallest since three years before Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) hamburger stand, reducing supply and raising prices even as domestic demand sinks to a two-decade low. Beef output in the U.S., the biggest producer, will drop for a third year in 2013 after drought destroyed pastures, forcing farmers to cull herds to the smallest since 1952, government data show. Cattle futures traded in Chicago may rise to a record $1.33 a pound by year-end, according to Ron Plain, a livestock economist at the University of Missouri at Columbia who has advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rising prices are shoring up income for farmers ...

Fed Says U.S. Wealth Fell 38.8% in 2007-2010 on Housing
Post Date: 2012-06-12 12:06:26 by Brian S
The financial crisis wiped out 18 years of gains for the median U.S. household net worth, with a 38.8 percent plunge from 2007 to 2010 that was led by the collapse in home prices, a Federal Reserve study showed. Median net worth declined to $77,300 in 2010, the lowest since 1992, from $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said in its Survey of Consumer Finances. Mean net worth fell 14.7 percent to a nine- year low of $498,800 from $584,600, the central bank said yesterday in Washington. Almost every demographic group experienced losses, which may hurt retirement prospects for middle-income families, Fed economists said in the report. “The impact has been a massive destruction of wealth all ...

Oil Heads for Longest Weekly Losing Streak in 13 Years
Post Date: 2012-06-08 10:28:55 by Brian S
Oil fell a second day in New York, heading for the longest weekly losing streak in more than 13 years, on speculation the economies of the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest crude consumers, will slow and curb fuel demand. Futures dropped as much as 2.6 percent. Federal Reserve officials need to assess the risk from Europe’s debt crisis and U.S. budget cuts before deciding on stimulus measures, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said to the Joint Economic Committee yesterday. China reports economic data tomorrow after cutting interest rates for the first time since 2008. Global crude supply is sufficient, Youcef Yousfi, Algeria’s energy minister, said before OPEC meets next week ...

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rises for Third Week as Pump Prices Fall: Economy
Post Date: 2012-06-07 11:46:33 by Brian S
By Michelle Jamrisko - 2012-06-07T14:55:15Z Consumer confidence rose last week for the third straight time as the drop in fuel costs helped shore up Americans’ finances and improved the buying climate. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index increased to minus 37.6 in the week ended June 3 from minus 39.3 in the prior period. Another report today showed claims for jobless benefits fell last week. A 9 percent drop in gasoline prices from the one-year high reached in early April may be overcoming disappointing news on the jobs front and a slump in stocks caused by concern over the outlook in Europe. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke highlighted those risks in testimony ...

Initial Jobless Claims Beat Estimates, Fall 12,000
Post Date: 2012-06-07 11:44:33 by Brian S
Fewer Americans applied for unemployment insurance payments last week, indicating limited progress in the labor market after a two-month slowdown in hiring. First-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 to 377,000 in the week ended June 2 from a revised 389,000 the prior week that was higher than initially estimated, the Labor Department said today. The median estimate of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 378,000 claims. The number of people receiving extended payments plunged. The claims figures may ease concern of further labor market weakness after a report last week showed employers in May added the fewest workers in a year. While sustained demand is ...

Service Sector Picks Up Modestly In May: ISM
Post Date: 2012-06-05 12:47:18 by Brian S
NEW YORK | Tue Jun 5, 2012 12:10pm EDT (Reuters) - The pace of growth in the vast services sector edged up in May driven by gains in new orders, a welcome comfort after recent disappointing economic data. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Tuesday its services index edged up to 53.7 from 53.5 in April; economists had expected the index to hold steady at April's level. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector, which accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity. Although the data offered a positive note after other recent signs suggesting the recovery is losing traction, the index was still well off the level of 57.3 seen in February. "Overall, ...

US Economy Added 69,000 Jobs In May, Fewest In A Year; Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.2 Percent
Post Date: 2012-06-01 11:23:33 by Brian S
The U.S. economy suddenly looks a lot weaker. U.S. employers created only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate ticked up. The dismal jobs data will fan fears that the economy is sputtering. It also puts President Barack Obama on the defensive five months before his re-election bid. And it could lead the Federal Reserve to take further steps to help the economy. The Labor Department also said Friday that the economy created far fewer jobs in the previous two months than first thought. It revised those figures down to show 49,000 fewer jobs created. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April, the first increase in 11 months. Job ...

Gold Poised for Worst Monthly Run in 11 Years on Europe
Post Date: 2012-05-31 14:05:37 by Brian S
Gold futures fell in New York, capping the longest monthly slump since 2000, as Europe’s worsening debt crisis and signs of a U.S. economic slowdown crimped demand for the precious metal. Higher borrowing costs in Spain are putting pressure on Mariano Rajoy’s five month-old government to join Greece, Portugal and Ireland in seeking a rescue that would be the European Union’s biggest. First-time claims for U.S. jobless benefits rose by 10,000 to 383,000 last week, the Labor Department reported today. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 raw materials fell as much as 1.2 percent and was headed for its biggest monthly drop since the recession in “Gold is ...

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