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

Economy Watch: December 21, 2008 - December 27, 2008

Stocks Up Slightly Despite Retail Plunge

On what is expected to be a light day of trading, stocks are slightly higher this morning despite data showing, as Bloomberg put it, "what may be the biggest holiday-shopping sales decline in four decades." Women's clothing, electronics and jewelry...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 26, 2008; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Another Light Trading Day Ahead

U.S. markets are open for trading today, unlike major European markets. Most Asian markets were open, however, and in Japan investors shrugged off news that industrial output fell 8.1 percent and sent the Nikkei 225 up 1.6 percent. South Korea's...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 26, 2008; 7:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Dow Breaks Losing Streak

Stock markets closed higher on a short, light trading day. That let the Dow break its five-day losing streak. The Dow closed up 48.99, or 0.58 percent, at 8.468.48. The S&P 500 closed up 1.23 or 0.14 percent, at 864.39....

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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To Nellie

"Wait till the sun shines, Nellie, When the clouds go drifting by, We will be happy, Nellie, Don't you sigh. Down Lover's Lane we'll wander, Sweethearts you and I. Wait till the sun shines, Nellie, Bye and bye." The traders...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 11:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Stocks Up Slightly

The S&P and Nasdaq both hit negative territory earlier this morning, but about halfway through the trading day, all major stock indicators have turned positive. The Dow is up 52.81, or 0.63 percent, to 8,472.30. The S&P 500 is up...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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N.C. Bankers Change Plans

The North Carolina Bankers Association had a convention planned for June at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, which describes itself as "a landmark resort of legendary proportions" between Los Angeles and San Diego. But they've changed course and instead...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Stocks Mixed in Early Trading

Jobless claims jumped more than expected, and consumer spending and durable-goods orders slightly fell less than expected. The mixed readings helped lead to a mixed open on Wall Street. On a short trading day, the Dow posted gains in the...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 9:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Spending, Durable-Goods, Jobless Claims Reports Out

Personal spending fell 0.6 percent in November, following a 1 percent drop in October, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That's the fifth straight month spending has dropped. Analysts had been expecting a November drop of 0.7 percent in...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 8:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Flat Open Expected for U.S. Markets

Most world markets are down today, hurt by the bad news on housing out of the United States yesterday. Japanese markets, which were closed yesterday, were down 2.4 percent, in part a delayed reaction to Toyota's announcement that it would...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 24, 2008; 7:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Stocks End Day Lower

Though volume was remarkably light in light of the upcoming holiday, the major stock indicators all fell today. The Dow: down 100 points, or 1.2 percent, to 8,419. The Nasdaq: down 8 points, or about 1 percent, to 863. The...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 23, 2008; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Shoppers Staying Home for Online Deals?

ComScore said today that online spending jumped to $677 million last weekend, almost twice the amount spent last year on the weekend before Christmas. That's especially interesting considering that a report released by America's Research Group and UBS showed that...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 23, 2008; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Fund Manager Tied to Madoff Case Found Dead

Multiple news outlets in New York are reporting that a hedge fund manager who reportedly invested heavily with Bernard Madoff was found dead this morning in his Manhattan office. Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, was pronounced dead at 8...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 23, 2008; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
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Stocks Now Headed South

Now that the market has had time to react to more negative news about the housing market, all of the major stock indicators have moved downward. The Dow is down 42 points, or 0.49 percent, to 8,477. The S&P 500...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 23, 2008; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Middle Class Task Force Planned

Members of President-elect Barack Obama's team announced the creation of a middle class task force, to be led by Vice President-elect Joe Biden. The goal, said Domestic Policy Council director Melody Barnes, is to "make sure that hardworking families are...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 23, 2008; 12:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Home Sales, Sentiment Data Present Mixed Picture

Home sales plunged further. U.S. consumer sentiment is up. That's the data Wall Street is trying to digest right now, after a lukewarm response to news that the GDP fell 0.5 percent in the third quarter, in line with economist...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 23, 2008; 10:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
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Stocks Open Slightly Higher

Traders are approaching the holiday and having a rather shrug-their-shoulders reaction to news that GDP dropped 0.5 percent in the third quarter -- a figure most economists were predicting. All three major indicators are up slightly. The Dow is trading...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 23, 2008; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Third-Quarter GDP Down 0.5 Percent

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product fell 0.5 percent in the third quarter, which was what analysts had been expecting. It's equal to the drop that was estimated last month. The department said in its statement that some of...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 23, 2008; 8:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Awaiting GDP, Home Sales Reports

A couple of economic reports are coming out today: third-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. and new- and existing-home sales at 10 a.m. The GDP report is expected to show that the economy contracted by 0.5 percent from July...

By Terri Rupar  |  December 23, 2008; 7:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Eric Billings Steps Down at FBR

The Post's Tom Heath is reporting that Eric Billings, the founder and CEO of FBR Capital Markets Corp., is stepping down. He will be replaced by Richard J. Hendrix, the firm's current president and chief operating officer. Billings's retirement comes...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?

The continued fallout from Bernand Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme has the blogosphere buzzing with examples of similar nefarious plots. One in particular caught our eye: Social Security. Social Security? Last week, in his CNBC blog Millennial Money, Cliff Mason wrote:...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 3:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Circuit City Sales Slump After Bankruptcy Filing

An attorney for Circuit City told a federal bankruptcy judge today that the company's sales have dropped between 40 and 50 percent since filing for Chapter 11 reorganization last month. The sales numbers came during a hearing in which a...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Toyota to Show Off Electric Car

Overlooked in today's announcement from Toyota that it expects to record its first yearly loss: The Japanese automaker said it will unveil a battery-powered car at the Detroit auto show next month. Toyota's electric car -- name unknown -- is...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 1:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Caterpillar Cutting Exec Pay by 50%

Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of construction equipment and engines, said today that executives are facing pay cuts of up to 50 percent in 2009. The company blamed the "continued deterioration" of markets the company serves. "We understand these...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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China Cuts Interest Rates

Last week, it was the Fed. This week it's China. For the fifth time in three months, China lowered its one-year lending rate, this time to 5.31 percent -- a .27 percent cut. Deposit rates were cut by the same...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Stocks Trading Lower

Closing in on 2009 -- after a year many investors would like to forget -- Wall Street opened the holiday week sort of quiet, but down. The Dow was down about 10 points, to 8,569. The S&P 500 was down...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  December 22, 2008; 9:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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