Stocks off to mixed start…New home sales jumped in November…Jobless claims rise
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are off to a mixed start on Wall Street following a mixed bag of corporate earnings and lingering concerns linger over trade and economic growth. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 are higher, while the Dow Jones industrial average is lower. Facebook jumped after reporting solid results for its fourth quarter, and General Electric soared after reporting growth in key segments. Microsoft, Hershey and Visa fell.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Commerce Department says sales of new homes jumped 16.9 percent in November from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 657,000. Despite the healthy gain, sales remained 7.7 percent below the pace from a year ago. The housing market stumbled badly at the end of the year as mortgage rates reached a seven-year high. The report was delayed by the 35-day partial government shutdown.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment checks has hit the highest mark since September 2017. The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid rose by 53,000 last week to 253,000. That’s up from a 49-year low of 200,000 the week before. The less volatile four-week average rose by 5,000 to 220,250. The number of federal workers seeking unemployment benefits fell 42 percent as the partial shutdown ended.
DETROIT (AP) – Auto plants and other big energy users throughout southeastern Michigan are shutting down or limiting operations due to a natural gas shortage caused by a fire and frigid temperatures. Eighteen factories and other facilities run by General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler are affected. The fire hit a Consumers Energy natural gas compressor station north of Detroit yesterday as record-low temperatures swept over the region.
ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. (AP) – A landmark New Jersey paper plant has been destroyed by fire. Fire crews battled the blaze at the Marcal Paper Mills in Elmwood Park for several hours yesterday in frigid weather. But they were unable to save the structure or the iconic red sign that was visible for years along Route 80. It was the second fire this month at the mill, where about 200 people work. The cause is under investigation.