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Economy

AP News | Equities.com |

U.S. stock indexes closed mostly lower Thursday following more evidence that the pandemic is tightening its grip on the economy while Congress remains in a stalemate over how to do something about it.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.1% after flipping between gains and losses in the early going. The index is within 1% of its all-time high set on Tuesday. Some 60% of the companies in the S&P 500 fell, led by declines in industrial and communication services stocks. Those losses outweighed gains in energy, technology and financial companies.


AP News | Equities.com |

The U.S. government’s deficit in the first two months of the budget year ran 25.1% higher than the same period a year ago as spending to deal with the COVID pandemic soared while tax revenues fell.

The Treasury Department reported Thursday that with two months gone in the budget year, the deficit totaled $429.3 billion, up from $343.3 billion in last year’s October-November period.

The deficit — the shortfall between what the government collects in taxes and what it spends — reflected an 8.9% jump in outlays, to $886.6 billion, and a 2.9% decline in tax revenues, to $457.3 billion.


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The number of people applying for unemployment aid jumped last week to 853,000, the most since September, evidence that companies are cutting more jobs as new virus cases spiral higher.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of applications increased from 716,000 the previous week. Before the coronavirus paralyzed the economy in March, weekly jobless claims typically numbered only about 225,000.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. job openings increased modestly in October and layoffs rose, strengthening views that the labor recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was slowing.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased to 6.65 million on the last day of October from 6.49 million the prior month, the Labor Department said on Wednesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. Vacancies are below their 7 million level in February.

The job openings rate edged up to 4.5% from 4.4% in September. Layoffs increased 243,000 to 1.7 million.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. worker productivity increased strongly in the third quarter, though the pace of growth was likely overstated as the sharp rebound in output from the COVID-19 pandemic recession has far outpaced employment gains.

The Labor Department said on Tuesday nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, increased at a 4.6% annualized rate last quarter. The slight downward revision from the 4.9% pace estimated last month followed a 10.6% rate of growth in the second quarter, which was the fastest since the first quarter of 1971.


AP News | Equities.com |

Japan’s economy expanded at a 22.9% annual rate in the last quarter, as businesses and personal spending recovered from pandemic-related shocks in the spring and early summer.

Economists said the upward revision released Tuesday was in line with forecasts and suggests Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, is on the mend from the recession that started in late 2019, even before coronavirus outbreaks hit.


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China’s politically sensitive trade surplus soared to a record $75.4 billion in November as exports surged 21.1% over a year earlier, propelled by American consumer demand.

Exports to the United States rose 46% despite lingering tariff hikes in a trade war with Washington, customs data showed Monday.

Total exports rose to $268 billion, accelerating from October’s 11.4% growth. Imports gained 5% to $192.6 billion, up from the previous month’s 4.7%.

Chinese exporters have benefited from the economy’s relatively early reopening after the Communist Party declared the coronavirus pandemic under control in March while foreign competitors still are hampered by anti-disease controls.


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America’s employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month as the viral pandemic accelerated across the country, adding 245,000 jobs, the fewest since April and the fifth straight monthly slowdown.

At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to a still-high 6.7%, from 6.9% in October as many people stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed, the Labor Department said. November’s job gain was down from 610,000 in October.


AP News | Equities.com |

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell as the nation celebrated Thanksgiving last week to a still-high 712,000, the latest sign that the U.S. economy and job market remain under stress from the intensified viral outbreak.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said that initial claims for jobless aid dropped from 787,000 the week before. Before the virus paralyzed the economy in March, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week had typically amounted to roughly 225,000. The chronically high pace of applications shows that nearly nine months after the pandemic struck, many employers are still slashing jobs.


AP News | Equities.com |

A Federal Reserve survey of business conditions around the country found that economic activity in several regions slowed in November as coronavirus cases surged.

The Fed report released Wednesday said that overall, the Fed’s 12 regional banks characterized the economic expansion as “modest or moderate.” But it noted that three Midwest regions and the Philadelphia region reported activity had begun to cool in early November as COVID-19 cases surged.

Four districts reported “little or no growth” during November, while five others reported that activity remained well below pre-pandemic levels in some sectors.