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

Economy Watch: December 28, 2008 - January 3, 2009

Mortgage Rates Fall to 5.1 Percent on 30-Yr Fixed

For the third week running, mortgage rates have hit new lows. Freddie Mac reported that average rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans this week fell to 5.1 percent. That's down from 5.14 percent the previous week, and the lowest since the...

By Sara Goo  |  December 31, 2008; 10:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Jobless Claims Dip

New claims for jobless benefits fell last week by 94,000, to 492,000, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That's welcome news on its face, but may have as much to do with seasonal issues (the reporting week was shortened by the...

By Washington Post Editor  |  December 31, 2008; 8:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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In Focus Today: Jobless Claims, Madoff

Because of the New Year's holiday, the government will report weekly jobless claims today instead of tomorrow. At 8:30 a.m., we'll see a report of how many people have recently filed for unemployment benefits, just in time for the holidays....

By Sara Goo  |  December 31, 2008; 7:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Fed Will Begin Buying Mortgage-Backed Securities Next Month

The Federal Reserve announced moments ago that it will begin its previously announced plan to buy mortgage-backed securities backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae early next month. The idea behind the plan is to bolster the weak...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 4:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Fannie, Federal Reserve, Freddie, Ginnie Mae, mortgage  
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It's the SEC's Turn to Get Grilled on Capitol Hill

Re. Bernie Madoff: What did the SEC know and when did it know it? That may be the tenor of the congressional hearing scheduled for Jan. 5, as the Hill takes its first whack at the Madoff scandal, in which...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 3:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, SEC  
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Clock Ticks For Bernie Madoff

While New Year's Eve revelers will be counting down the old year tomorrow, the clock at the SEC will be ticking for self-confessed Ponzi scammer Bernie Madoff. Madoff, who told his sons earlier this month that his investment fund defrauded...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 1:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, SEC  
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SEC Halts $23 Million Ponzi Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced moments ago that it has halted a $23 million Ponzi scheme aimed at Haitian-Americans. According to the SEC, a man named George L. Theodule began cheating investors as early as November 2007, urging them...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, Ponzi, SEC  
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Consumer Confidence Hits Record Low

U.S. consumer confidence dropped again, hitting a new record low in December, according to a monthly survey. According to the Conference Board, the Consumer Confidence Index dropped from 44.7 in November to 38 in December. The number represents a composite...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 10:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: consumer confidence, economic indicators  
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GMAC Bailout Pushes Dow Up at Opening

The government's $5 billion boost to GMAC seems to have pushed the markets to a slightly upward opening. In the first 25 minutes of trading, the Dow is up about 47 points, or about 0.6 percent. The S&P 500 and...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 9:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, GM, GMAC  
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Big-City Home Prices Take Record Plunge

Home prices dropped by the biggest annual rate on record in October, according to a key index released moments ago, stoking fears that the plummeting housing market has yet to find a bottom. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2008; 9:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: home prices  
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In Focus Today: Consumer Confidence

This morning, the Conference Board is set to release its data on consumer confidence for the month of December. By all accounts from retailers so far, we know that consumers are not in the usual spending mood, even if it...

By Sara Goo  |  December 30, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Freddie Mac Names Credit Officer

Raymond Romano, a four-year Freddie vet, will take over as the company's chief credit officer, a newly created position, Freddie said today, The Post's David Hilzenrath reports. Washington-based Freddie and Fannie Mae entered federal conservatorship in September to avoid going...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Fannie, Freddie  
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Dow Chemical Hurts Dow Jones

In the last hour of today's trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down about 70 points, or less than one percent, and has been down for most of the day. Analysts believe that the Mideast violence is partly to...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 3:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Chemical, Dow Jones, Kuwait, Warren Buffett  
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Billionaire Investor Kerkorian Dumps Remaining Ford Shares

Tracinda Corp., the investment vehicle of nonagenarian billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, has sold its remaining shares of Ford, Tracinda said today, completing a process that began in October. The private-but-not-reclusive Kerkorian (he eats out in Hollywood but has not given...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, Kirk Kerkorian  
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McConnell: Not So Fast On Obama Stimulus Plan

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced skepticism today about the emerging economic stimulus plan, applying a brake to Democratic plans of quickly passing up to $850 billion in spending and tax cuts soon after President-elect Barack Obama's Jan. 20...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 2:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Obama, stimulus plan  
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Report: Madoff May Have Stashed Funds Offshore

Earlier today, we wondered aloud: Where is all that money that Bernie Madoff scammed? After all, you'd think it would be hard to stash $50 billion. That's a lot of Mason jars in a lot of back yards. Yesterday, the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Wall Street Finally Moves, But Downward

It took a while, but Wall Street seems to have chosen a direction for the day's trading: down. After hanging around the neutral line for much of the morning, the Dow is down now about 80 points, or nearly one...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, oil  
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Dow Up Slightly in Quiet Opening

Wall Street stepped tentatively this morning into its second short week. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is essentially flat, up about four points. The S&P 500 is up by the same margin and the Nasdaq is...

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, oil  
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