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

Economy Watch: March 29, 2009 - April 4, 2009

Markets Squeeze Out a Gain

Stock markets were all over the chart today, swinging from positive to negative and back again almost every hour. Investors rallied toward the end, however, finishing in the happy place for the day and the week. The Dow closed up...

By Ylan Mui  |  April 3, 2009; 3:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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ProPublica: Banks didn't have proper reserves

ProPublica has an interesting story that outlines how accounting firms failed to notice that banks had not set aside enough reserves to cover losses in the years leading up to the financial crisis. One interesting nugget from the story: "Between...

By Ylan Mui  |  April 3, 2009; 12:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Fannie and Freddie to Pay $210 Million in Bonuses

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are planning to pay $210 million in retention bonuses to 7,600 employees over 18 months, their regulator said today. In a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the Federal Housing Finance Agency said $51 million...

By Ylan Mui  |  April 3, 2009; 11:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Non-manfacturing Sector Contracts

Following gloomy unemployment data, the Institute for Supply Management just reported that its index of non-manufacturing businesses fell to 40.8 percent in March, down from 41.6 percent in February. That is the sixth straight month the index has declined....

By Ylan Mui  |  April 3, 2009; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
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Stocks open mixed

Stock markets got off to a shaky start this morning following the release of another batch of dismal unemployment figures. The markets have been swinging between positive and negative territory in the first few minutes of trading. The Dow was...

By Ylan Mui  |  April 3, 2009; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Unemployment Rate Hits 8.5 Percent

The nation's unemployment rate shot up again in March to 8.5 percent, with losses across a wide area of job sectors, according to federal data released this morning. About 663,000 jobs were lost in March with the biggest declines in...

By Dan Beyers  |  April 3, 2009; 8:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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April 2, 2009

A Light at the End of the Tunnel Forbes.com | Nouriel Roubini explains why he sees a dim and distant glimmer in the economic data. The Financial Crisis: An Inside View Brookings Institution | A former senior Treasury Department...

By Sara Goo  |  April 2, 2009; 5:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Former Treasury Official Releases Tell-All

A former senior Treasury Department official is shedding light into the Bush administration's response to the financial crisis. In a 50 page report published as part of the Brookings Institution's Panel on Economic Activity, Philip Swagel, who was assistant secretary...

By Sara Goo  |  April 2, 2009; 4:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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FHA Mortgage Insurance Programs Strained

UPDATED 3:43 pm: The Federal Housing Administration has launched a SWAT group that will make unannounced visits to lenders whose loans “are exhibiting signs of distress.” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Sean Donovan mentioned the Special Work Assessment Teams in...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 2, 2009; 3:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Factory Orders Up

For the "better than expected" file, add U.S. factory orders, which jumped 1.8 percent in February after many economists predicted a 1.5 percent increase. This adds to a number of economic indicators that are faring better than experts thought. The...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 2, 2009; 10:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Consumer Loan Delinquencies Increase

The American Bankers Association just reported that consumer loan delinquencies are continuing to increase, the product of more job losses across the country. The fourth quarter delinquency rate: 3.22 percent. That's the highest recorded rate since the organization began tracking...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 2, 2009; 10:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Stocks Trading Higher at Opening

Traders have shrugged off news that weekly jobless claims jumped more than expected, apparently focusing on another interest rate cut in Europe (albeit smaller than expected) and an easing of mark-to-market accounting rules for toxic mortgage assets in the United...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 2, 2009; 9:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Weekly Jobless Claims Spike

The three-week jump in stock prices has been, according to many traders, a result of economic results coming in "better than expected." The message: It could have been worse, so let's be happy. But this morning, traders are learning that...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 2, 2009; 9:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Bank of America CEO: We Took Too Much TARP Money

Bank of America chief executive Ken Lewis appeared on CNBC this morning to discuss the banking crisis that his whipsawed his company. Among the highlights, according to a CNBC story: --On TARP: "We took more [TARP funding] than we...

By Michael S. Rosenwald  |  April 2, 2009; 8:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Motley Fool Gets $25M In Bailout Money -- April Fools'!

Those merry pranksters over at Alexandria's Motley Fool played a little foolishness on fans today, joking on their Web site that the stock-advice firm has taken $25 million in government bailout money. The Fools dutifully reported how they "spent" $24...

By Frank Ahrens  |  April 1, 2009; 4:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: April Fool's, Motley Fool, bailout  
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March Sales: GM Down 45 Pct., Ford Down 41 Pct., Chrysler Down 40 Pct., Toyota Down 37 Pct.

UPDATED at 2:57 P.M. WITH CHRYSLER: Toyota, now the world's largest automaker, said its March North America sales were down 36.8 percent, compared to March 2008. But March 2009 sales were up 16.3 percent compared to February of this year,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  April 1, 2009; 2:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, bankruptcy  
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April 1, 2009

My Manhattan Project New York | How I helped build the bomb that blew up Wall Street. BofA Insider Lending Charlotte Observer | Bank of America vaulted into the top 10 banks for insider lending last year with an...

By Sara Goo  |  April 1, 2009; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Trio of Economic Indicators Not as Bad as Expected

A trio of economic reports came in this morning still bad, but not as bad as expected, giving the markets enough hope to wipe out their morning dive and move into positive territory. -- Pending home sales inched up in...

By Frank Ahrens  |  April 1, 2009; 10:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: construction, home sales, manufacturing  
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Markets Drop at Opening

Wall Street seemed determined to instantly give up yesterday's rally gains at opening today, with markets dropping across the board. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is down about 85 points, or 1 percent. The broader S&P...

By Frank Ahrens  |  April 1, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500, unemployment  
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FinancialStability.gov Finally Launches

FinancialStability.gov, the Web site set up by the White House in an effort, it says, to create transparency in the bailout process, has launched, after being promised for several weeks. The site has a simple glossary of financial terms (though...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, Tim Geithner, bailout  
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Another Newspaper Chain Declares Bankruptcy

Sun-Times Media Group, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times and 58 smaller suburban newspapers, today became the latest newspaper chain to file for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws. "Over the past several months, the company has taken several...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 1:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: bankruptcy, newspaper industry, recession  
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GM, Ford Follow Hyundai Buyer-Assurance Program

Detroit automakers General Motors and Ford are joining Hyundai in offering to make new car payments for buyers if they are laid off this year through no fault of their own. Ford said today that it will cover up to...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 1:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ford, GM, Hyundai  
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Consumer Confidence Ticks Up Slightly, Still Near Record-Low

A measure of consumer confidence showed that sentiment ticked up slightly in March, though it still hovers near record lows. The Conference Board combines a number of survey factors to compute its monthly consumer confidence index. In February, the number...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: consumer confidence  
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New GM CEO: We Got Obama's Message

New General Motors chief executive Fritz Henderson is holding a news conference in Detroit right now responding to yesterday's White House action against the company -- rejecting its restructuring plan and ousting chief executive Rick Wagoner. Henderson, the company's former...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Fritz Henderson, GM, Obama, Rick Wagoner  
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Markets Up at Opening

Wall Street began this morning by recouping some of its big losses from yesterday's sell-off, opening up across the boards on the final day of the first quarter of 2009. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Home Prices Take Record 19 Percent Plunge In Jan.

U.S. home prices dropped by the steepest annual rate on record in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller housing price index released moments ago. In the 20 cities monitored by Case-Shiller, home prices plunged 19 percent in January compared to January...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 31, 2009; 9:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: case-shiller, home prices  
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P&G Chief Hammers Obama Tax Proposal

In an opinion column in today's Cincinnati Enquirer, the chief executive of Cincy-based Procter & Gamble writes that one of President Obama's taxes in the proposed budget could cripple U.S. businesses operating overseas, such as P&G. Here is how P&G...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 30, 2009; 3:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, budget, p&g, procter & gamble, taxes  
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Chase Credit Card to Refund 'Illegal' $10 Monthly Fee

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, evidently eager to keep his hitting streak going, said today that he has pressured Chase Bank into ending what Cuomo's office called an "illegal" $10 monthly fee imposed on thousands of Chase credit card...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 30, 2009; 1:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chase Bank, JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon  
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Chrysler, Fiat Respond to Obama but Deal Not Wrapped Up Yet

Troubled automaker Chrysler just put out a joint statement with Fiat which, frankly, is a little puzzling. The headline is: "Chrysler LLC Statement in Response to the Announcement by the Administration, U.S. Treasury and President's Auto Task Force." Chrysler chief...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 30, 2009; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Fiat, Obama  
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Obama: GM, Chrysler May End Up In Bankrutpcy

President Obama just concluded remarks on the restructuring of the U.S. auto industry and said that saving troubled automakers GM and Chrysler "may mean using our bankruptcy code to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger." Obama then attempted to...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 30, 2009; 11:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, GM, Obama, Rick Wagoner  
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Fallout From Wagoner Ouster: GM, Ford Shares Plummet

The markets are punishing shares of Detroit automakers GM and Ford following the White House ouster of GM chief executive Rick Wagoner. Shares of GM are trading down 25 percent, while shares of Ford are trading down more than 7...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 30, 2009; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, GM, Rick Wagoner  
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Markets Dive at Opening

Wall Street opened today's session like a Buick rolling off a cliff: straight down, fast and hard. The question today: Does this mean the three-week rally is over? In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is down about...

By Frank Ahrens  |  March 30, 2009; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, GM, Rick Wagoner, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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This Week: Economic Data Brings Reality Check

The economic data lately have offered hopes, hints and insinuations that better times could lie ahead. This week, we start to see whether it's for real. Analysts have been clinging to a few better-than-expected numbers that suggest the steep slide...

By Sara Goo  |  March 30, 2009; 5:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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March 30, 2009

The Quiet Coup The Atlantic | If the United States were a developing nation, what would the International Monetary Fund say about our financial condition? The always provocative economist Simon Johnson gives his take--and concludes that the nation's top...

By Sara Goo  |  March 29, 2009; 9:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Neil Irwin's Must Reads  
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