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Economy

AP News | Equities.com |

U.S. home prices jumped in October by the most in more than six years as a pandemic-fueled buying rush drives the number of available properties for sale to record lows.

That combination of strong demand and limited supply pushed home prices up 7.9% in October compared with 12 months ago, according to Tuesday’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. That’s the largest annual increase since June 2014.


AP News | Equities.com |

U.S. consumer spending fell 0.4% in November, the first decline since April, as Americans confronted a newly resurgent virus.

The decline followed a 0.3% gain in October and even bigger increases starting in May, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, a period when the country was emerging from lockdowns intended to halt the spread of COVID-19. There was a massive 12.7% decline because of that in April.

Also, personal incomes fell 1.1% in November, marking the third drop in the past four months as various government relief programs expire.


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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 89,000 last week to a still-elevated 803,000, evidence that the job market remains under stress nine months after the coronavirus outbreak sent the U.S. economy into recession and caused millions of layoffs.

The latest figure, released Wednesday by the Labor Department, shows that many employers are still cutting jobs as the pandemic tightens business restrictions and leads many consumers to stay home. Before the virus struck, jobless claims typically numbered around 225,000 a week before shooting up to 6.9 million in early spring when the virus — and efforts to contain it — flattened the economy. The pace of layoffs has since declined but remains historically high in the face of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.


AP News | Equities.com |

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose again last week to 885,000, the highest weekly total since September, as a resurgence of coronavirus cases threatens the economy’s recovery from its springtime collapse.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of applications increased from 862,000 the previous week. It showed that nine months after the virus paralyzed the economy, many employers are still slashing jobs as the pandemic forces more business restrictions and leads many consumers to stay home. The number of claims was much higher than the 800,000 that economists had expected.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. congressional negotiators were haggling on Wednesday over details of a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill that is expected to include $600-$700 stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, as a Friday deadline loomed, lawmakers and aides said.

Top members of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate sounded more positive than they have in months on a fresh response to a crisis that has killed more than 304,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

“We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “We need vaccine distribution money, we need to re-up the Paycheck Protection Program to save jobs, we need to continue to provide for laid-off Americans.”


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The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it will keep buying government bonds until the economy makes “substantial” progress — a step intended to reassure financial markets and keep long-term borrowing rates low indefinitely.

The Fed also reiterated after its latest policy meeting that expects keep its short-term benchmark interest rate near zero through at least 2023. The Fed has kept its key rate there since March, when it took a range of extraordinary steps to fight the pandemic recession by keeping credit flowing.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. retail sales fell for a second straight month in November, likely weighed down by raging new COVID-19 infections and decreasing household income, adding to growing signs of a slowdown in the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession.

Retail sales dropped 1.1% last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Data for October was revised down to show sales falling 0.1% instead of climbing 0.3% as previously reported. October’s decrease was the first since April, when stringent measures to control the first wave of coronavirus cases crippled the economy.


AP News | Equities.com |

U.S. industrial production increased 0.4% in November with manufacturing receiving a boost from a rebound in output at auto plants after three months of declines.

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that the November gain in industrial output followed an even stronger 0.9% increase in October. Even with the gains, industrial output is still about 5% below its level in February before the pandemic hit.

Manufacturing was up 0.8% in November, its seventh consecutive monthly gain, with last month’s increase boosted by a rebound in auto production. Production of motor vehicles and parts rose 5.3%, the biggest monthly increase since a 31% surge in July. However, after that jump following spring lockdowns, auto production fell in August, September and October.


Reuters | Equities.com |

Warren Buffett said on Tuesday the United States is fighting an “economic war,” and that Congress must step up quickly to help struggling small businesses that have become “collateral damage” in the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on CNBC television, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc said he hopes Congress provides new stimulus soon, and extends “on a large scale” the popular Paycheck Protection Program, which was established earlier this year to provide loans to the nation’s smallest employers.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. producer prices barely rose in November, supporting views that inflation would remain benign in the near term as a flare up in new COVID-19 infections restrains the labor market and demand for services.

The producer price index for final demand edged up 0.1% last month after increasing 0.3% in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was the smallest gain since April. In the 12 months through November, the PPI advanced 0.8% after increasing 0.5% in October.