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

Economy Watch: August 16, 2009 - August 22, 2009

August 21, 2009

The Washington Post staff share their picks for reading around the Web. Finance: Before the Next Meltdown Democracy Journal | What's wrong with financial innovation? Plenty, argue Simon Johnson and James Kwak in a thoughtful piece in Democracy Journal....

By washingtonpost.com Editor  |  August 21, 2009; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Neil Irwin's Must Reads  
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Markets Rally on Strong Home Sales

The markets continued to rally this morning, reacting to surprising strength in the housing market and positive comments from the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Sales of existing homes rose 7.2 percent in July, the highest jump in two years,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 21, 2009; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Markets Shake Off Bad Jobs News, Stage Strong Rally

A day that looked like it was headed for a big sell-off on Wall Street instead managed to sustain a respectable rally. Traders were surprised by worse-than-expected new jobless claims news announced before the opening bell, and sent stock futures...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 20, 2009; 4:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Conference Board, Dow Jones, Gap, Sears, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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U.S. Charges Two Swiss Financial Executives

The Justice Department has charged a Swiss banker and a lawyer with conspiring to defraud the U.S. by helping rich Americans hide assets in sham offshore entities to dodge taxes. The news comes one day after the U.S. strong-armed Swiss...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 20, 2009; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Swiss banks, UBS  
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Swiss Sell Stake in UBS

Switzerland has sold its 8.5 percent stake in Swiss banking giant UBS, making a $1.1 billion profit for Swiss taxpayers. As the U.S. did during the financial crisis last fall for banks in this country, Switzerland helped prop up UBS...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 20, 2009; 12:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: UBS  
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GM Subsidizes Dealers Waiting on Government Money ... With Government Money

In a shell game of find-the-taxpayer-money, General Motors is temporarily subsidizing its dealers, which are waiting on late Cash for Clunkers payments from the government. Nice, but here's the thing: GM is 60 percent owned by the federal government, after...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 20, 2009; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: GM, General Motors, cash for clunkers  
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New Jobless Claims Higher Than Expected

New jobless claims last week jumped to 576,000, a figure higher than economists expected, the Labor Department reported moments ago. The new jobless claims number was up 15,000 from the previous week's revised numbers. Economists expected a drop of about...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 20, 2009; 8:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Labor Department, jobless claims, unemployment  
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Markets on Wild Ride Today

We're kind of glad we didn't have time to do a market opening posting this morning, because it would have proved meaningless by midday. Futures pointed to a sharp drop, which the markets provided out of the gate. But then,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 19, 2009; 2:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, oil, s&p 500  
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GM Announces First Production Hike, Worker Rehire Since Bankruptcy

For the first time since the company filed for bankruptcy, General Motors is hiring back workers and adding overtime to meet higher-than-expected demand for cars and trucks, The Post's Peter Whoriskey reports. The company will reinstate 1,350 workers and add...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 18, 2009; 4:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Ford, GM, General Motors  
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Target Earnings Beat Expectations

Retail giant Target reported a 6.3 percent drop in second-quarter profit this morning, but it still beat expectations thanks to cost-cutting. Revenue was down 2.6 percent compared with the second quarter of last year. Cost-cutting enabled Target to eke up...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 18, 2009; 10:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Target, Wal-Mart  
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Markets Open Up Slightly in Rebound

Wall Street opened up slightly this morning as it attempted to recover from yesterday's big pullback, in which all the major indexes dropped more than 2 percent. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow was up 37 points,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 18, 2009; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, Home Depot, Target, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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July Housing Starts, Producer Prices Down

Two key economic indicators were released moments ago and they continue to paint a picture of a sluggish economy trying to slog its way out of recession. In the first number, July housing starts were down 1 percent in July...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 18, 2009; 8:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Home Depot Earnings Beat Expectations

Yesterday, home improvement giant Lowe's came up short of Wall Street expectations in second-quarter earnings. This morning, its biggest rival -- Home Depot, the nation's largest home renovator -- beat expectations in second-quarter results. Profit was down 7 percent and...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 18, 2009; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Home Depot  
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Markets Dive On Big Sell-Off

Wall Street closed the first trading day of this week moments ago with a big sell-off, as the Dow Jones experienced its biggest one-day loss since July 2, erasing all of August's gains. The Dow closed down nearly 2 percent,...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 17, 2009; 4:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Home Builder Sentiment Ticks Up in August on Surge in Expectations

Home builders are thinking just a little more optimistically about new home sales in August, according to the home builders sentiment index, released moments ago. The National Association of Home Builders index, which goes from 1 to 100, ticked up...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 17, 2009; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: homebuilder sentiment  
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Is Nothing Sacred in This Recession? Reader's Digest Set to File for Bankruptcy

Reader's Digest -- an American media icon of the 20th century, thanks to its inspiring, safe-for-family-reading articles and folksy, cornpone humor -- is planning to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Parent company Reader's Digest Association has had trouble since...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 17, 2009; 12:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Reader's Digest, bankruptcy  
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Friday Big Bank Failure Is Largest of 2009

Some bank-failure news we're mopping up from Friday: The FDIC seized Colonial Bank and sold its branches and most of it assets -- including deposits -- to BB&T. It was the biggest bank failure so far of 2009 and the...

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 17, 2009; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: BB&T, Colonial Bank, bank failure  
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Wall Street Plunges at Opening

Wall Street plunged across the board at opening this morning, following a big Asian sell-off caused by last week's sour U.S. consumer news. In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is down 170 points, or about 1.8 percent....

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 17, 2009; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, Lowe's, nasdaq, s&p 500  
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Wall Street Poised for Plunge Following Global Sell-Off

Wall Street looks like it's ready for a big plunge at opening in about 45 minutes, following a global chain reaction that began here last week. Asian markets fell overnight, responding to last week's worse-than-expected consumer news from the U.S....

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 17, 2009; 8:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Asian markets, Dow Jones, recession  
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