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

Markets Bump Up at Open

Yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged by 514 points. In the first few minutes of trading, the Dow, Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq indexes are slightly up.

At 10 a.m. today, two contentious hearings will take place on Capitol Hill. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve will be the star witness before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He will likely face questions about actions the government didn't take that might have contributed to the boom in subprime mortgages and the subsequent housing market collapse.

Meanwhile, Neel Kashkari, the interim head of the government's $700 billion rescue effort, and other government officials are going before the Senate Banking Committee to lay out their plans for implementing the massive program.

Here's a round-up of other news this morning:

-- General Motors announced it is suspending matching payments to employee 401(k) savings plans as it tries to conserve cash amid slumping sales in the U.S. and Europe, according to the Associated Press. The match of as much as 4 percent of employee contributions will end Nov. 1. The largest U.S. automaker will also end programs that assist with college tuition and child adoptions as of January.

-- Allstate Corp, the insurance company, today reported an unexpected third-quarter loss due to hefty hurricane-related expenses and the ongoing global financial crisis.

-- Aircraft parts maker Goodrich this morning raised its full-year 2008 earnings-per-share outlook but cut its full-year revenue outlook because of a machinist strike at customer Boeing Co.

Weekly jobless claims are also out this morning.

The Department of Labor said today new claims for jobless benefits increased by mor than was expected last week.

The Labor department said new applications for unemployment benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 478,000, slightly above analysts' estimates of 470,000.

The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, dropped slightly from a seven-year high to 480,250.

Jobless claims above 400,000 are considered a sign of recession. A year ago, claims stood at 333,000, the department said.

There is one improvement: the number of people continuing to claim unemployment insurance dropped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.72 million, down from 3.73 million, a five-year high.

--Kim Hart

By Kim Hart  |  October 23, 2008; 9:35 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Next: Greenspan's Revelation: Subprime Mortgages Are to Blame

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