Business Update for 12/18/13
Business news for Wednesday, December 18.
UNDATED (AP) — Target says it’s fixed the problem that allowed credit and debit card information on as many as 40 million accounts to be stolen. It says credit card holders can continue to shop at its stores. But the chain also says customers should check their statements carefully for unauthorized charges. The accounts are those of customers who swiped their cards at stores in the U.S. between November 27th and December 15th.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slipping in early trading on Wall Street and long-term interest rates are rising a day after the Federal Reserve said it would reduce its bond purchases. The Dow Jones industrial average surged nearly 300 points to another record yesterday after the Fed said it was trimming its stimulus efforts, which investors saw as a vote of confidence in the economy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has climbed to its highest level since March. The Labor Department says applications rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. The less volatile four-week average jumped by more than 13,000 to 343,250, the second straight increase. Economists say the increase may reflect volatility around the Thanksgiving holidays.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people buying existing homes has declined for the third straight month. The National Association of Realtors says sales fell 4.3 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.90 million. That’s the weakest pace since December 2012, and the first time since April that the pace has slipped below 5 million. The median sales price of an existing home was $196,300 in November, a slight decrease from October but 9.4 percent higher than a year ago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average rates for fixed mortgages are up slightly this week but remain near historic lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.47 percent from 4.42 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.51 percent from 3.43 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of the U.S. economy’s health shows a solid gain in November. The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.8 percent last month compared with October, when the index had posted a 0.1 percent gain. The index is designed to signal economic conditions over the next three to six months.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s decision to trim its stimulus efforts next month is being well-received on Wall Street. The decision removes a huge amount of uncertainty for investors who’ve been wondering when the central bank would make such a move. Stocks surged yesterday. The Dow jumped 293 points. The S&P 500 rose nearly 30 points. The Nasdaq was up 46.
BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks are mostly higher as investors interpret the Federal Reserve’s decision to trim its stimulus as a vote of confidence in the U.S. economy. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained, while Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 added 2.1 percent. The benchmark indexes in France and Germany have started the day with gains of one percent or better. Oil has slipped to under $98 per barrel.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Investors will be focusing today on the government’s weekly jobless claims report. Also, they’ll get a clearer picture of the housing market when the National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales numbers for November, and Freddie Mac reports the weekly mortgage rates. The Conference Board will release November’s leading economic indicators.
UNDATED (AP) — Honda tops the insurance industry’s annual list of the safest new vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives 39 vehicles top safety ratings for 2014, and eight of them are made by Honda. The total is dramatically fewer than the 130 on the list last year because of new tougher standards. Vehicles now need both top crash test scores and a good front crash prevention system, such as warning systems or automatic braking, to get its highest designation.
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