Daily Market Commentary for October 06, 2011
Apple Visionary Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56 on October 5, 2011.
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Per the Labor Department , first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose in the latest week and the number of initial claims in the week ending October 1 rose 6,000 to 401,000. The four-week average fell 4,000 to 414,000 while claims in the previous week were revised to a decrease of 33,000 to 395,000 compared with the initial estimate of a drop of 37,000 to 391,000. There were no special factors affecting the weekly data, per a Labor Department official .
President Barack Obama cast his jobs bill as insurance against a double-dip recession and urged Congress to pass the measure swiftly. "If we don't take action, we could end up having more significant problems that we have now," Obama said at a news conference. Obama said the European debt crisis posed a serious threat to the recovery, "The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it is already fragile," Obama said. "The proposals in this bill are not just random investments to create make-work jobs. They are steps we have to take if we want to build an economy that lasts," he said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in remarks prepared for a hearing on Thursday that a severe crisis in Europe could cause significant economic damage by undermining confidence and weakening demand. Geithner added that U.S. major banks and money market funds have "substantially reduced their exposure" to European economies that are under the greatest pressure. "Our direct financial exposure to those governments and their financial institutions is quite small, but Europe is so large and so closely integrated with the U.S. and world economies that a severe crisis in Europe could cause significant damage by undermining confidence and weakening demand," he said. Geithner insisted that as a result of this economic situation it was critical that Congress approve President Barack Obama's jobs bill, which he said would raise economic growth by 1% to 2% and help create one to two million new jobs. Geithner also said the Obama administration will provide details about a series of proposals to help "a meaningful" number of homeowners participate in a government program that provides refinancing to current low interest rates for so called "underwater" borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, in the next few weeks. He added that Federal Housing Finance Agency director Ed DeMarco is examining a set of proposals that would make it much easier for people to refinance at lower rates, including people who have loans that are worth less than their outstanding mortgage obligations. Geithner said, "DeMarco is going to be laying out some clarity to the broader markets and to homeowners in the next few weeks. He's told us it is meaningful enough to make a difference."
In a news release, Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac said, â€œAverage 30-year conventional fixed mortgage rates fell below 4% for the first time in history this week, following a sharp drop in 10-year Treasurys early in the week as concerns over a global recession grew." Rates charged on a 30-year home loan averaged 4.01% last week compared to 4.27% a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages also fell to record lows for week ending October 6, averaging 3.26%, down from 3.28% last week and compared to 3.72% a year ago. To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages require a payment of an average 0.8 point, the 5-year ARM required an average 0.6 point and the 1-year ARM required an average 0.5 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest. Nothaft pointed out that the decline in incomes is the first drop since October 2009 and pending home sales dropped for the second month in a row during August.
The Bank of England stunned currency markets today by announcing yet another round of quantitative easing, responding to threats to the U.K. economic recovery and prompting a steep selloff in the British pound. In Berlin, the European Central Bank kept its main interest rate at 1.5%. In London, the Bank of Englandâ€™s Monetary Policy Committee voted to increase the size of its asset purchase program, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, by 75 billion pounds (around $115 billion) to ?275 billion. â€œThe pace of global expansion has slackened, especially in the U.K.â€™s main export markets,â€ the bank said in a statement. â€œVulnerabilities associated with the indebtedness of some euro-area sovereigns and banks have resulted in severe strains in bank funding markets and financial markets more generally,â€ it added. â€œThese tensions in the world economy threaten the U.K. recovery.â€ The ECB kept its official interest rate at a record low 0.5%, where it has remained since March 2009.
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