Moody's downgrades Atlantic City's bond rating, and a computer glitch hits U.S. passport issuing service. Ford Motor Co. has good news, as does the U.S. job market in a report of today's top stories.
Jobless Claims at Lowest Level Since 2006
The Labor Department Thursday said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 19,000 to the lowest level since February of 2006. The seasonally adjusted total of 284,400 for the week ending July 19 was well below economists’ expectations of claims of 308,000. The previous week’s claims were shown to include 1,000 more applicants than previously reported. The four week average of claims fell to 302,000, the lowest level since May of 2007. This is actually a time in the year when claims are expected to climb as automakers shut down for retooling.
Walmart U.S. CEO Resigning
Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, who has been in charge of the company’s U.S unit for four years, is resigning, the company announced. He is being replaced by Walmart China CEO and president Greg Foran. The date of departure for Simon is Aug. 9. Simon’s departure comes at a time when Walmart is having trouble delivering positive comparable sales. He joins a long list of retail company CEOs who have resigned recently. CNBC reports there are nine retailers searching for a CEO.
Ford Reports Upbeat Numbers
Ford Motor Co.’s operating earnings for the second quarter topped Wall Street expectations thanks to better-than-expected profit in North America and Europe, which topped weak sales reports in Asia Pacific and South America. Ford showed a profit of $2.6 billion, or 40 cents a share, when analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters believed there would be a 36-cent per share profit total. For set a record for operating profit in North America at $2.44 billion. Revenue increased to $37.4 billion from nearly $36.08 billion one year ago.
Atlantic City Gets Junked by Moody’s
Atlantic City saw its bond status dropped to “junk’’ level Wednesday by Moody’s Investors Service, which downgraded the general obligation bonds because of the casino’s town’s declining tax revenues. The rating for the city now is at Ba1, which can seriously affect the $245 million in outstanding debt owed by the city. “The downgrade reflects the city’s significantly weakened tax base, revenue-raising ability and broader economic outlook,’’ Moody’s said in a statement. By the end of August, close to one-third of Atlantic City’s casinos will have closed in 2014. Some believe this could put one-quarter of the city’s workforce out of jobs.
ECB Gets Hacked
The European Central Bank reports that email addresses and other contact information it has been stolen by a system computer breach. The bank said that “no internal systems or market sensitive” data was part of the theft of information and was physically separate from the compromised data. "The theft came to light after an anonymous email was sent to the ECB seeking financial compensation for the data,’’ the company said in a statement. “ While most of the data were encrypted, parts of the database included email addresses, some street addresses and phone numbers that were not encrypted,” Users whose information might have been part of the breach are now being contacted, and the bank said all passwords on the system have been changed.
Passports Delayed by Computer System Crash
The U.S. State Department reports that its global database for issuing travel documents such as passports has crashed, meaning new applicants for passports will be delayed. Unspecified glitches in the department’s Consular Consolidated Database resulted in “significant performance issues, including outages" in the processing of applications for passports, visas and reports of Americans born abroad since Saturday, the state department said. A spokesman said the problem is worldwide. The problem has created a significant backlog of applications, which has hampered the department’s efforts to get the system back on line. The database is the State Department's system of record and is used to approve, record and print visas and other documents to ensure that national security checks are conducted on applicants.