The euro began trading today at a four month low against the dollar at $1.3958 due to increasing fears that the euro debt crisis may spread to Italy and Spain. U.S. stock futures were lower on early trading as the stock markets in Asia and Europe were down steeply. Talks in Brussels with Euro zone finance ministers have not resulted in any firm plans to combat widening concern that social and political unrest in at-risk countries may impede fiscal progress.
Just a year ago, the Obama administration thought its loan modification and incentive programs for new homeowners would help the U.S. housing market out of its slump. A year later, there hasn't been much progress in the market and prices still are under pressure in much of the country, according to a Wall Street Journal report. With the 2012 election fast approaching, the White House is under pressure to come up with successful initiatives to clear the inventory of unsold homes which are depressing housing prices country-wide. Currently in discussion are programs which would allow Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to rent their inventories of homes instead of selling them, loosening lending restrictions on private investors who purchase homes and encouraging lower fees lenders charge for riskier borrowers.
Big companies doing well
A USAToday report cites the record profits and double-digit growth reported by large U.S. companies in the second quarter as a sign that companies are not experiencing the same troubled economy that people are. S&P, in fact, is predicting a 15.4% growth in earnings of its S&P500 companies this quarter. The numbers are also a sign that even though earnings are higher, the growth is coming from overseas sales and a weak dollar. The report also notes that the value of the S&P500 is lower than recent historical averages on a P/E basis and that the rate of growth may be decelerating. Decelerating growth and a weak dollar are cautionary signs for the economy as a whole going forward.
Mobile shopping app
Google Offers, its group buying service similar to Groupon, debuts today in New York and San Francisco, according to TechCrunch. The service, now in beta release, has been in use in Portland, Oregon for the last month. The Google Shopper 2.0 app for Android will enable consumers to receive their daily deals from nearby merchants which are then saved on the mobile app. The company is planning to roll out the service to Washington D.C., Seattle, Denver, Boston and Austin next month.
Final space walk
Today marks the last space walk by U.S. astronaunts from the U.S. shuttle program. The Atlantis crew will perform maintenance on the international space station as well as deploy a scientific experiment. After transferring cargo to the space station, astronauts will return Atlantis to the Kennedy Space Center on July 21 marking the end of the space shuttle era.