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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Global Markets Looking Up

Several European governments took steps today to try to ease the financial crisis. This time it was the Netherlands, which announced it would provide $14 billion for banking and insurance firm ING. The Swedish government also announced its financial stability plan while Germany worked out the details of its own bank bailout.

European stock indexes are all up this morning, with the DJ Stoxx index up 2.8 percent and London's FTSE up just under 2 percent. In Asia, the markets were positive too, led by Hong Kong's Hang Seng, up 5 percent, and the Nikkei, up 3.6 percent.

On Sunday, South Korea announced it would guarantee $100 billion in foreign debt and provide $30 billion to banks and exporters in need of cash. South Korea is one of the most vulnerable economies in Asia.

Are you wondering what unintended consequences will come of the government's historic interventions in the market in recent weeks? It's too early to tell, for some of the biggest moves, but Sunday's Washington Post story explains which consequences we've seen so far.

This week, earnings will be the big focus for the stock market, which will use them to gauge the economy's health. Several major firms will be reporting, including Yahoo, Apple, Boeing and AT&T, just to name a few. Several news reports out today say that Yahoo may announce additional layoffs this week, yet another sign that the Internet giant is struggling.

Later today, we'll be following Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony on Capitol Hill before the House budget committee. Top of the agenda will be the Democrats' idea to push forward with a second stimulus package. Will Bernanke support it? Check back here later to find out. The committee hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.

--Sara Goo

By Sara Goo  |  October 20, 2008; 7:23 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Next: Report: IMF to Rescue Iceland


Associated press release follows....

WASHINGTON – Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.

Posted by: Gary Gelormino | October 20, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

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