The Ebola virus threatens oil prices worldwide as international travel decreases, and Russian President Vladimir Putin moves away from using the U.S. dollar for international trade. Here are the top news stories for October 2, 2014.
Jobless Claims Hit Significant Low Number
The Labor Department Thursday said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjust 287,000 in the week ended Sept. 27, reaching one of the lowest numbers in years. The four-week moving average of claims fell 4,250 to 294,750, near an 8 ½ year low. Claims have fallen steadily since the nation emerged from the 2008 economic recession and are currently below where they were before the crisis began in late 2007. The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 45,000.
Oil Prices Depressed and Sliding
The price of crude dropped again Thursday with Brent and West Texas prices plunging to their lowest level in more than one year. The increase in oil supplies and the drop in demand from China and Europe are the reasons for the decline. Other factors include poor U.S. factory data released earlier this week and continued concerns over the Ebola virus in the U.S. dropping travel plans for many Americans. Commercial airline fuel expenditures could drop if the Ebola crisis limits international travel. The organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) holds its next meeting in November when it could reduce output to increase price.
Adam Sandler, Netflix Joining Forces
As the second step in Netflix’s move to movie-making, the streaming video service announced Friday that comedic actor Adam Sander will star in and produce four movies to be seen exclusively on Netflix. On Wednesday Netflix announced it was producing the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and will be airing it on its streaming service simultaneously with its IMAX movie theatre debut. Sandler will develop and produce the films under a new agreement that comes as a result of the popularity of Sandler’s previous films on Netflix. “People love Adam’s films on Netflix and often watch them again and again,’’ said Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos. “His appeal spans across viewers of all ages. Everybody has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite line, not just in the U.S. but all over the world.”
Worldwide Income Inequality on the Rise
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) said Thursday that the continued and sharp rise in income inequality around the world is one of the most worrying developments of the past two centuries. The new OECD report tracked well-being in eight world regions and said that the divergent changes in personal income over the last 30 years has risen significantly. "It is hard not to notice the sharp increase in income inequality experienced by the vast majority of countries from the 1980s. There are very few exceptions to this," said OECD economists in the report. The report says income inequality, which is measured as pre-tax household income, declined in most Western countries from the end of the 19th century until 1970 when it began to rise.
Putin Makes Economic Promises
Russia will continue to keep a free market economy, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but he says the country will no longer use the American dollar for trade purposes. According to world economy experts, if Russia pulls away from using U.S. dollars as its global currency, it could have an effect on the American economy. Putin said he would use “national currencies’’ instead of the dollar, which is currently the world’s reserve currency. “In the future we aim actively to use national currencies in energy resources trade to settle... international trade accounts, with China and other countries," Putin said. Putin did pledge to stick to the standards of the World Trade Organization, and promised to help the companies and industries that have been targeted by sanctions against Russia for its role in the continued fighting in the Ukraine.
Moynihan New BofA Chairman
Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has been named the new chairman of the board for Bank of America, effectively immediately. Moynihan succeeds Charles "Chad" Holliday, the former chief executive of the chemical company E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co , who served as the bank's chairman for more than four years. Jack Bovender, the former chief executive of hospital operator HCA Inc., and a member of the BofA board since August 2012 will become its lead independent director. When Moynihan succeeded then chief executive Ken Lewis in January of 2010, he began shedding billions in assets outside of its main businesses to simplify Bank of America's operations and tried to resolve the legal and regulatory woes haunting the bank following the recession of 2008.