Monday, March 12, 2007

This Week in the News

The nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.5% in February, as employers added 97,000 jobs to their payrolls, close to economists' forecast for a gain of approximately 100,000, the Labor Department reported March 9. Unemployment fell despite bad winter weather that forced construction companies to slash 62,000 jobs, the most since 1991.
The Labor Department also reported that the number of laid-off workers filing unemployment claims fell by 10,000 for the week ended March 2. The decline provided a break from a recent rise in layoffs stemming from a weakness in the housing and auto sectors.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said there was a "one-third probability" of recession in the United States this year, according to a March 6 interview with Bloomberg news service. His comments contrasted with those of current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said that the Federal Reserve continues to foresee "moderate growth going forward."
The nation's trade deficit narrowed slightly to $59.1 billion in January, down 3.8% from a December deficit of $61.5 billion. Exports of goods and services rose by 1.1% to an all-time high of $126.7 billion in January, reflecting gains in sales of airplanes, computers and farm products.
Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to their lowest level since mid-December, as investors moved to the safety of bonds after last week's stock market turmoil. Typically, more money flowing into the bond market makes more money available for mortgage lending.
This week look for updates on producer prices on March 15 and consumer prices on March 16.

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