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Economy

AP News | Equities.com |

Spending on U.S. construction projects increased 0.9% in November as strength in home building offset weakness in other parts of the construction industry.

The November gain followed a bigger 1.6% rise in October and left construction spending up 4.4% through the first 11 months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Commerce Department.

For November, spending on residential construction rose 2.7% with single-family construction surging 5.1%


Reuters | Equities.com |

OPEC sees plenty of downside risks for oil markets in the first half of 2021, its secretary general said on Sunday, a day before meeting allies led by Russia to discuss output levels for February.

“Amid the hopeful signs, the outlook for the first half of 2021 is very mixed and there are still many downside risks to juggle,” said OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo.

He was speaking at a meeting of experts of OPEC and allies, a group known as OPEC+, according to remarks published by OPEC.

OPEC+ will meet on Monday.


AP News | Equities.com |

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week fell by 19,000 to 787,000, still a historically high level as a resurgent coronavirus maintains its grip on the U.S. economy.

While at the lowest level in four weeks, the figures released Thursday by the Labor Department are nearly four times higher than last year at this time before the coronavirus struck. Employers continue to cut jobs as rising infections keep many people at home and state and local governments re-impose tighter restrictions on businesses and public activities.


Reuters | Equities.com |

U.S. gasoline prices hit a nine-month peak as drivers took to the roads on holiday travel, crude oil prices kept climbing and refiners further cut fuel production due to weak margins.

Prices at the pump topped $2.25 a gallon this week, according to the American Automobile Association, the highest since March when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Supplies fell to the lowest in a month at 236.6 million barrels, according to U.S. government data released on Wednesday.


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.


AP News | Equities.com |

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.”


AP News | Equities.com |

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.