Stocks slip…Jobless claims plunge…Spending, inflation up
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are starting out lower on Wall Street as the market continues an unsettled period of trading ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. The S&P 500 gave back 0.3% in the early going Wednesday. The benchmark index, which set a record high last Thursday, was weighed down by losses in technology and consumer-focused companies. Tesla fell nearly 4%, while Gap sank 20% after reporting results that came in far below analysts’ forecasts. Nordstrom gave up 25% after it also reported very weak results. European markets were lower and Asian markets closed mixed. Crude oil prices slipped.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plummeted last week to the lowest level in more than half a century, another sign that the U.S. job market is rebounding rapidly from last year’s coronavirus recession. The Labor Department says Jobless claims dropped by 71,000 to 199,000, the lowest since mid-November 1969. The drop was much bigger than economists expected. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly ups and downs, also dropped – by 21,000 to just over 252,000, the lowest since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic slammed the economy. Seasonal adjustments around the Thanksgiving holiday contributed significantly to the drop.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. consumer spending rebound in October, rising by a a solid 1.3%, but inflation was up as well, rising over the past year at the fastest pace in more than three decades. The Commerce Department reports that the jump in consumer spending last month was double the 0.6% gain in September. Consumer prices were up 5% compared to a year ago, the fastest 12-month gain since the 12 months ending in November 1990.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. economy slowed to a modest annual rate of 2.1% in the October-December quarter, slightly better than first reported. But economists are predicting a solid rebound in the current quarter as long as rising inflation and a recent uptick in COVID cases do not derail activity. The increase in the gross domestic product, the economy’s total output of goods and services, was up from an initial estimate of 2% for the third quarter. But the revision was still well below the solid gains of 6.3% in the first quarter this year and 6.7% in the second quarter.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of federal workers seems to be working, with no apparent disruption to law enforcement, intelligence-gathering or holiday travel. Yesterday, one day after the deadline for compliance, 92% of the 3.5 million federal workers covered by Biden’s mandate reported to the government that they are at least partially vaccinated, according to White House officials. In total, 96.5% of employees have been deemed in compliance with the policy. A breakdown on compliance by federal agency is expected later today. White House officials say the most important lesson for businesses from the federal experience is that once they take the first step toward requirements, their workers will follow.