European stocks fall and Asia is mixed
Winning the Nobel Peace Prize did little to boost the markets in Europe. Stocks are falling on Friday as investors anticipate poor earnings for US bank stocks. The Wall Street Journal reports that Wells Fargo will report earnings later today. Trade data for China is anticipated on Saturday with inflation numbers due on Monday. Overall Asian markets were mixed. JP Morgan reported higher than expected earning this morning which may give markets a boost. The Dow was down 18 points on Thursday, ending at 13,326.
Fewer US layoffs no longer suggests hiring
As the Associated Press points out, declining applications for unemployment benefits has typically pointed to stronger hiring. That is no longer true. While the unemployment rate may have fallen to 7.8 percent in September, it was not because more people were hired since only 114,000 jobs were added last month. Many people have used up the unemployment benefits that were available to them. In September, 582,000 people were working part-time but wanted full time jobs. With the economy growing at 1.2 percent, it is not likely to generate significant hiring. Economists fail to paint a rosy future picture and indicate that the unemployment rate is no longer relevant.
Ready to export US crude
Some of the world’s largest oil companies and traders are ready to begin exporting substantial amounts of US crude oil from the US for the first time in decades. According to the Financial Times, this will have a significant impact on global energy markets. Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Vitol are among the six companies that have applied for export licenses. Last year, the US imported $436 billion of petroleum last year. A change in these import amounts will have a large impact on the price of oil worldwide. The Department of Commerce refuses to confirm or deny these export licenses.
USDA changes forecasts for soybeans and corn
The Department of Agriculture boosted its estimates for the size of this fall’s soybean harvest because rainfall late in the season mitigated the impact of the drought. The same was not true of the corn crop, however, that was too far along in its growth when rain finally came to the Farm Belt in late August. For both corn and soybeans, the country’s largest crops, the USDA forecast tighter domestic supplies a year from now, according to the Wall Street Journal. That led to a jump in futures prices at the Chicago Board of Trade with corn futures up 5 percent and soybean futures up 2.8 percent. Corn and soybean prices are at historical highs and are starting to trigger higher food prices. Livestock and poultry companies will be hit especially hard so expect prices for beef, chicken and pork to rise as well.
Average rate on 30 year mortgage increases
A modest increase in mortgage rates indicates that the market may be slowly improving. USA Today reports that the rate on a 30 year fixed increased to 3.39 percent, up from a record low of 3.36 percent. That was the lowest rate since mortgage rates were tracked starting in the 1950s. The Fed has said it will continue to buy bonds until the job market begins to improve. When home prices rise, the Fed believes that people feel wealthier and will begin to spend. The housing market still has a long way to go and many people are still unable to take advantage of the lower rates because of stricter lending requirements.
Germany holds firm on Greece
The IMF laid out a case for leniency for Greece this week, urging the EU to allow Greece more time to implement its austerity measures. But Reuters reports that Germany says it is still too soon to determine whether Greece should receive a reprieve. Germany said that failing to enforce policies would lead to a lack of credibility. Germany is Europe’s largest creditor country. Germany indicates that it will wait for the formal joint report from the “troika” – a committee made up of the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank – to make its determination regarding Greece.
10 States that sell the most beer
Beer consumption has fallen for the third straight year, according to a report by the Beer Institute. While in Utah beer consumption is a mere 19.2 gallons per resident, in three states more than 40 gallons of beer were consumed per person. According to USA Today, the top ten beer guzzling states include: New Hampshire, North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nevada, Vermont, Texas, Nebraska and Delaware. Beer sales laws and population clearly impact the rating.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.