The G-7 countries agreed on coordinated currency intervention to support Japan's economy. It is the first time they have worked together since the fall of 2000, reports the Associated Press. The Wall Street Journal indicates that Japan requested the intervention and the Tokyo stock market has risen sharply.
Oil prices are also increasing based on the Libyan crisis, report multiple sources including the Associated Press.
Wall Street recovered on Thursday from the 242 point drop on Wednesday, gaining 160 points and closing at 11,774. The increase was due to some strong economic data. March was the second month reporting strong job growth and factory production increased for the sixth straight month, according to the Associated Press. The Federal Reserve said that auto part manufacturing increased 4.2% in February. Manufacturers created 190,000 jobs in the past year. The Conference Board, however, warned that an increase in food prices and oil could slow down the recovery.
The Washington Post reports that the Consumer Price Index rose .5 in February, the largest increase since June 2009. The core prices, that exclude food and energy, rose .2. Gas prices increased 4.7% in February and food prices rose 6%. Higher food and gas prices could limit consumer spending.
Congress is in danger of hitting the debt ceiling sometime between April 15 and May 31 if it cannot come to agreement on budget issues sometime soon, according to CNN. The recent agreement to extend the existing compromise for 3 weeks expires April 8. Congress has a week off before that time and an additional two weeks off at the end of April.
General Motors is closing a plant in Shreveport, LA due to a lack of parts from Japan reports both the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. The Journal also reports that 6 Sony plants in Japan remain closed and Honda does not plan on re-opening plants in Japan until at least May.
Hawaii is bracing for an economic downturn due to the crisis in Japan. Hawaii already anticipated nearly a $1 billion shortfall due to the recession and the loss of over 1.2 million Japanese tourists per year will be highly detrimental. The Associated Press states that the Japanese spend $1.9 billion in Hawaii each year and that represents 17% of all tourism revenue. The Japanese tourists outspend Americans 2:1 per day on trinkets, restaurants and other goods.
Nasdaq's counter-offer, along with ICE, for the acquisition of the NYSE has been delayed according to the Wall Street Journal.
Not surprisingly, U.S. car dealers are taking the opportunity to raise car prices due to the crisis in Japan, the Associated Press reports. Toyota dealers are already upping the price of the popular Prius with dealers indicating they are not sure when they will be getting more. Prices of otherJapanese cars are also increasing. Toyota had no comment.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Neil Barofsky, Special Inspector General for TARP, is resigning effective March 30. Barofsky testified that TARP has given an unfair advantage to large banks that are deemed "too big to fail". His feeling is that they will continue their risky behavior in order to have large profits and smaller organizations are not given the same opportunities. TARP, which is widely credited for saving the financial system, was originally estimated at $700 billion but the real cost was closer to $25 billion.
The U.S. has topped the French in wine sales for the first time. The U.S. sold 330 million cases of wine in 2010 compared to the 321 million sold by France. But we still do not consume wine at the same rate as the French. The French drink 12.2 gallons per year per person compared to 2.6 gallons per year for Americans, according to the USA Today. Why is wine growing in popularity? The millennial generation has chosen wine as its alcohol of choice and overall Americans are becoming more of a foodie culture. The growth of the U.S. wine industry is anticipated to continue to grow. C'est la vie to our friends in France.
And finally, USA Today reports that Diet Coke has overcome Pepsi to become the second most popular soft drink in the U. S. second only to, you guessed it, its sister drink, Coke.