Deficit threatens U.S. credit ratings
The U.S. credit rating will be cut if the federal government fails to increase the debt limit and allows the country to go into default, Bloomberg News reports. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s would lower the U.S. sovereign ranking to D, its lowest level, while Moody’s said it would give the nation a ranking of Aa.
President Barack Obama cajoled Congress in a press conference today for failing to raise the debt limit currently capped at $14.3 million. Legislators have until August 2, when the Treasury is expected to run out of money for debt payments.
Default grows less likely in Greece
Greece’s parliament passed an $114 billion austerity package on Wednesday paving the way for the cash-strapped nation to receive more international aid, Bloomberg News reports. The parliament faces a second vote tomorrow to authorize implementation of the measure.
U.S. stocks rose on the news, while protestors demonstrated and scuffled with police in the square outside Parliament.
Higher debit card fee cap boosts Visa and MasterCard
Visa and MasterCard gained 11 percent today following a Federal Reserve decision to cap debit-card transaction fees at 21 cents, Bloomberg News report. An earlier proposal to cap fees at 12 cents per transaction would have cost the financial services industry an estimated $12 billion in revenue a year.
Pending home sales rise in May
Every region in the nation saw an increase in pending home sales in May, the National Association of Realtors announced on Wednesday. The 8.2 percent increase brings the association’s Pending Home Sales Index to 88.8 in May and points to higher housing market activity in the second half of 2011.
Year-over-year the index, a measure of completed contracts, is above the 78.3 reading for May 2010. “This solid gain in contract signings implies that home values in many localities are or will soon be stabilizing as inventories get absorbed at a faster pace,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the association.
Obama’s health care law withstands first appeal
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinatti has ruled that it’s constitutional for Congress to require Americans to obtain health insurance, The New York Times reports. The ruling is first of three to appellate court decisions be delivered on the law, which is expected to end up before the Supreme Court.
U.S. auto sales will rebound
Ford Motor Co. predicts that industry-wide auto sales will rise in the U.S. in the second half of 2011, Bloomberg News reports. Sales have been affected by rising gas prices and shortages of parts and products from Japanese manufacturers. A pent up demand for about 13 million vehicles will be satisfied as gas prices fall and Japanese suppliers come back online.
Turtles delay flights at Kennedy airport
A slow-moving stampede of turtles forced controllers to reroute departing flights and delayed takeoffs for an average of 30 minutes at New York’s Kennedy Airport, The Wall Street Journal reported. The diamondback terrapin turtle migration takes place every year at Kennedy as turtles from a nearby nature preserve along Jamaica Bay come to land to lay their eggs. Airport crews load the turtles into pickup trucks and drive them to nesting beaches.