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Trading Now

Friday, February 20, 2009


Dow plummets to lowest since 2002
Hopes that the U.S. bear market was headed for an upturn faded as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell through November's low and continued plummeting to its lowest point since October 2002. Quincy Krosby, chief investment strategist at The Hartford, said the market's sharp drop confirms that there is "more pessimism in the market as to when the economy is going to pick up steam." Forbes/The Associated Press (19 Feb.)

Almost 5 million receive unemployment benefits in U.S.
Close to 5 million people in the U.S. are receiving unemployment benefits, an all-time high, the government reported. "The data indicates an accelerated deterioration ... jobs are being lost, and the pool of unemployed is growing faster," said Kevin Logan, an economist at Dresdner Kleinwort. "People cannot find jobs." Reuters (19 Feb.)

Equity markets burdened by bad news from U.S., E. Europe
Global equity markets are feeling the effects of negative economic news and seemingly endless economic-stimulus programs. Traders have been shifting back and forth between hope and fear. "Each policy-fueled rally has been smaller than the last," an analyst at Barclays Capital said. Financial Times (19 Feb.)

Muni-bond buyers unimpressed by California's budget
California must continue paying significant risk premiums to raise money in the municipal-bond market, despite the state's approval of a plan that closed a $42 billion budget gap. An executive with bond investor Nuveen Asset Management said the budget is heavily dependent on federal stimulus aid and borrowing and "doesn't solve the structural deficit." Bloomberg (19 Feb.)

Japan uses "work sharing" to keep employees in jobs
Japanese companies are embracing "work sharing," under which two or three people share the hours and pay of what was one person's job, to ride out the economic downturn. The practice, common in much of Europe, has been criticized as nothing more than a way to disguise pay cuts, but it is getting support from one of Japan's most important business lobbies. International Herald Tribune/The Associated Press (20 Feb.)

Japanese firms rely on retail investors to raise funds
Banks and companies in Japan issued the equivalent of $13.4 billion in bonds, a record amount, to retail investors last year. As institutional investors remain cautious about corporate debt, the firms are increasingly relying on retail investors. "It is possible that by tapping the retail market to raise funds, they can do so at tighter spreads than with institutional investors," said Fumihito Gotoh of UBS. Financial Times (19 Feb.)

"Smart technology" ready for role in stimulus projects
The use of high technology to plan and build infrastructure could soon get its biggest test, as U.S. President Barack Obama's economic stimulus moves from talking to spending. Technology powerhouses are positioning themselves to profit from projects that use "smart technology," but some policymakers and trade groups that support traditional construction said brick-and-mortar projects will create jobs faster. BusinessWeek (19 Feb.)

U.S. stimulus creates opportunity for money trackers
The first big burst in hiring under the U.S.' $787 billion stimulus is for people to keep an eye on how the money is spent. More than $350 million was authorized for oversight, and investigators, auditors and lawyers are expected to benefit. The New York Times (19 Feb.)

Obama says U.S. is committed to open trade with Canada
During a joint news conference in Ottawa with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama said he wants to "grow trade" with Canada, not restrict it. Obama said he does not think there is anything in the U.S. economic stimulus that would harm the "extraordinarily important" trade relationship between the two nations. Financial Times (20 Feb.)

U.S. drivers reduced mileage by 107.9 billion in 2008
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration reported that vehicle miles traveled in 2008 fell by 3.6%, the biggest drop in 66 years. During the same period, 881 car dealers went out of business, with most closing during the fourth quarter, according to consultant Urban Science. Bloomberg (19 Feb.)

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