The Economy Grew At A 1.3 Percent Annual Rate In The Second Quarter

The economy grew at a 1.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter, helped by exports and spending on services, a report from the Commerce Department also showed. The revised rise in gross domestic product compares with a 1 percent gain previously calculated and followed a 0.4 percent increase in the first three months of the year. The comfort gauge reached similar readings of minus 53 three times in the first half of 2009, when the economy was in the recession. It is surpassed only by all-time lows of minus 54 plumbed in November 2008 and again in January 2009. Sentiment among homeowners and part-time workers fell to the lowest in records dating back to 1990, while married Americans were the gloomiest in 19 years. Company executives have also turned less optimistic. The Business Roundtable’s survey of chief executive officers showed its economic outlook index fell to 77.6 in the third quarter, the lowest reading since the last three months of 2009, from 109.9 in the previous three months, the Washington-based group said today. Readings higher than 50 are consistent with economic expansion. Survey participants reduced forecasts for the economy growth, employment and business investment.

U.S. Jobs Market And High Long-Term Unemployment

High long-term unemployment is testing politicians and central bankers to the utmost as the impact of a shortfall in demand is amplified by an aging population, a mismatch of skills and inadequate efforts to get people back to work. That’s a summary not of Europe, typically associated with rigid hiring and firing laws and excessive non-wage costs, but of the United States, long renowned for a labor market as dynamic as its entrepreneurs. America’s jobs machine is now spluttering badly, an ominous development for businesses worldwide hoping for a revival in the world’s largest economy to relieve the gloom cast by the euro zone debt crisis. Figures due on October 7 are likely to show the unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent in October despite near-zero interest rates. Alarmingly, an unprecedented 30 percent of the jobless have been out of work for a year — a stagnant pool of workers whose job prospects can only decline as their skills rust. There is clearly a risk for the United States of repeating the experience in European countries of cyclical unemployment turning into structural unemployment, said Mark Keese, head of the employment analysis division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. In a welcome piece of good news, figures on Thursday showed U.S. jobless claims fell by almost 40,000 last week – more steeply than expected. Click To See More Job Info

U.S. Stocks Trade Rose, Sending The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index Higher

U.S. stocks trade rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index higher for the fourth time in five days, as economic data eased concern about a slowdown and Germany approved changes to a European bailout fund. Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. climbed 3.3 percent as European lenders soared. General Electric Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co. gained trade at least 2.8 percent as jobless claims fell more than forecast and the U.S. economy grew more than estimated in the second quarter. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. slid 12 percent after cutting its forecasts. The S&P 500 advanced 1.2 percent to 1,165.01 at 11:54 a.m. New York time, after climbing as much as 2.2 percent earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 181.30 points, or 1.7 percent, to 11,192.20 today trading. The U.S. economic trading data was better than expected, but that matters less as investors are still taking a wait-and-see approach to what’s going on in Europe, Michael Gibbs, Memphis, Tennessee-based chief equity strategist at Morgan Keegan Inc., said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees about $70 billion in client assets. The trade market wants Europe to show us, not tell us, what’s going to happen. U.S. stocks slid yesterday, halting a three-day rally for the S&P 500, on concern that European leaders are divided over how to handle Greece’s debt crisis. A four-day rout last week erased $1 trillion from U.S. equities amid concern Greek insolvency is inevitable and Europe can’t contain the damage. Click To See More Stocks Info

Trade of Crude Oil, Silver and Gold Commodities

Crude Oil, Silver, Gold; what’s next in the EuroZone helped the USD recover earlier loses and pressured commodities. Precious metals resumed their downward move, following yesterday’s bounce, and have extended that sell-off in after hours trade. Gold futures fell 2.1% to finish at 1618.20 oz, and Silver futures closed off 4.4% at 30.14 oz. In after hours trade, Gold futures tested the 1600 level and holding for now. Crude Oil futures, which settled lower by 3.2% at 81.21 bbl, saw very little reaction to this morning’s inventory data, showing an inline build. The rebound in the USD, coupled with a broad based sell-off in commodities, pushed futures lower throughout the session, and Crude Oil trading ended near its session lows. Click To See More Commodities Info

Health Insurance Services, Jared Short In The New Position

In this role, Jared’s responsibilities will grow to include leadership of Regence’s health insurance company operations across its four states – Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, Regence BlueShield in Washington, Asuris Northwest Health, Government Programs and the Federal Employee Program, as well as Account Management, Insurance Product Development, eProducts and Services, Health Care Services and the Regence and Asuris Northwest Health subsidiaries of Healthcare Administrators, Inc. Jared has a unique skill set and operational background which allow him to serve as a dynamic leader within our complex and evolving health care markets. Coupled with his focus on member involvement and customer service, our members and customers will surely benefit from his leadership, said Regence CEO Mark Ganz. Jared succeeds Bill Barr, who is moving to the role of CEO for Regence Life and Health. Don Antonucci, currently Oregon Vice President of Sales, has been appointed to serve as Interim President of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. In this role, he will continue to have oversight of sales. Antonucci joined Regence in May of 2010 with more than 15 years of experience in the health insurance industry. He began his career in market analytics for a variety of health plans, including Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey. Immediately before accepting his position with Regence, Antonucci served as director of sales with WellPoint, Inc. / Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. Click To See More Insurances Info

Small Businesses And Buffett Tax

Warren Buffett had everyone crunching the numbers this past week with his claim that he pays more in taxes than his secretary, and that millionaires need to their fair share in taxes. This assertion prompted President Obama to propose the Buffett Tax on Monday to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries. And so the Buffett Tax debate began. The Buffett Tax proposes that “those making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.” But it might not just be high earners feeling the tax pinch. Small businesses could get hit with this tax, as many file as sole proprietors or S corporations, which is similar to filing as an individual. At least 75% of small businesses file taxes on business income at individual rates, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Republicans Ask Federal Reserve To Resist New Efforts To Boost Economy

Republican leaders of the House and Senate are urging Federal Reserve policymakers against taking further steps to lower interest rates. On the eve of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting, the leaders sent a letter to Chairman Ben Bernanke warning that the Fed’s policies could harm an already weak U.S. economy. The letter, sent Monday, was signed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. The letter followed criticism from several Republican presidential candidates that the Fed’s efforts to boost growth have already raised the risk of high inflation. “The American people have reason to be skeptical of the Federal Reserve vastly increasing its role in the economy,” the lawmakers wrote. It is rare for lawmakers to try to sway policy at the Fed, which operates independently of Congress and the White House. But the letter was sent at a time when Bernanke, a Republican, has faced growing criticism from members of his own party. Former Fed official Joseph Gagnon, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, called the letter “outrageous. It’s incredible.” Gagnon said it’s been several decades since such high-level politicians tried so directly to influence the Fed. “The fact that it’s in print and signed by the leaders of the House and minority leaders of the Senate raises it up a notch,” Gagnon said. David Jones, head of consulting firm DMJ Advisors and the author of books on the Federal Reserve, said he can’t recall another instance when members of Congress had made such a direct approach to the Fed in the week that the central bank was meeting. “It is inappropriate for politicians to try to exert this kind of influence,” Jones said. He suggested it would make the Fed’s job of managing interest rates harder because financial markets will grow concerned about whether the central bank could be unduly influenced by political pressure. The lawmakers were responding to expectations that the Fed will announce a new step Wednesday to further lower interest rates. Republicans have been critical of the Fed’s previous efforts to lower rates through the purchase of U.S. Treasurys. The letter expressed “serious concerns” that the Fed’s actions could weaken the foreign exchange value of the dollar or encourage excess borrowing by consumers who are already carrying too much debt. Bernanke has rebuffed his critics. He has argued that rates must remain at record lows to encourage lending and invigorate the economy, which has struggled to grow more than two years after the recession officially ended. He has acknowledged that inflation has ticked up in recent months. But Bernanke says that is mostly because of temporary factors. He expects inflation to subside in the coming months. The comments from GOP leaders also come after Bernanke suggested that Republicans in Congress should support efforts to stimulate hiring and growth, rather than focus solely on deficit cutting.