Money Matters - Simplified


Service sector shows faster growth

Tempe, Ariz. -- Growth in U.S. service industries accelerated slightly in November, the Institute for Supply Management said Friday.

With numbers above 50 indicating growth, the new orders index for non-manufacturing businesses rose from 56.7 to 57.7 in the month. The employment index rose from 50.9 to 52.7, while the headline Purchasing Managers Index remained above 50 for the 11th consecutive month, climbing from 54.3 to 55.

Imports climbed from 54 to 54.5 and prices paid by non-manufacturing firms continued to grow, but at a slower pace with the index dropping from 68.3 to 63.2.

U.S. automakers report November gains

Detroit -- U.S. automakers reported a sharp rise in sales in November compared to a year ago with Ford Motor Co. leading the pack with a gain of 20 percent.

General Motors Co. said sales rose 11.4 percent compared to November a year ago. It's numbers were skewed, however, with comparison to a company that was struggling a year ago with Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer brands, which were wound down and Saab, which it sold this year.

Excluding the four brands it no longer operates, sales at GM rose 21 percent, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Sales at Chrysler LLC also jumped, rising 16.7 percent.

Grains mixed Monday in Chicago

Cchicago -- Grain futures prices were mixed Monday in Chicago with corn and wheat up slightly, as the dollar index was flat, falling 0.06 percent.

Corn was off unchanged to up 1, soybeans were off 3 1/4 to off 3 1/2, wheat was up 2 to up 3 3/4 and oats were off 5 1/2 to off 6 1/2.

Corn found support on the Chicago Board of Trade from a lack of rain in Argentina and reports of a potential corn shortage in China. Wheat futures rose modestly with dry weather in Australia and the United States lending support. In the soybean market, beneficial rain in Brazil in the state of Mato Grosso as the planting season winds took away some price support Monday.

The prices:

U.S. economy gains 151,000 jobs

Washington -- The U.S. economy saw a gain of 151,000 jobs in October but the unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

It was the third consecutive month the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent and 15th consecutive reporting period the rate was 9.5 percent or higher. That is the longest such stretch since record keeping on the statistic began in 1948.

The gain in payroll was much higher than economists' expectations of an increase of 60,000.

The rise in the number of jobs marked the first time since May, when data were affected by thousands of temporary U.S. Census Bureau jobs, that job growth was reported.

Unemployment rate drops in Canada

Ottawa -- Statistics Canada said Friday the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.9 percent in October on a gain of 3,000 jobs.

The rate had previously been 8 percent, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

It fell with a double benefit of jobs added and the reduction of 4,300 people looking for work.

During the month, 47,000 full-time jobs were added to the economy and 44,000 par-time jobs were lost.

"Today's soggy employment gains extend the broader theme of much more modest growth in Canada than seen in the opening months of the year," said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Market.

Markets post quick gains Thursday

New York -- U.S. markets surged early Thursday on encouraging data backed by a U.S. Federal Reserve decision to pump $600 billion into the economy through Treasury bonds.

The Fed said Wednesday it would buy $75 billion in long-term bonds per month through June. The decision was made after reports earlier in the week showed gains in U.S. and Chinese manufacturing and in service-oriented U.S. business activity.

Equity markets rose across Asia and Europe Thursday morning. In midmorning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 156.63 points or 1.4 percent to 11,371.80. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 14.99 or 1.25 percent to 1,212.95. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 30.044 or 1.2 percent to 2,570.71.

Markets waver ahead of Fed decision

New York -- U.S. markets dropped Wednesday after gaining early as investors waited for the Federal Reserve's afternoon announcement on monetary policy.

Expectations were high the Fed will announce a limited round of bond purchases. But how much of a boost that would give markets, if any, remains to be seen. When investors anticipate a beneficial policy decision, they often make adjustments ahead of the actual announcement.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22.93 points, 0.2 percent to 11,165.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.28 percent, 3.29, to 1,190.28. The Nasdaq composite index shed 0.34 percent, 8.53, to 2,524.99.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note gained 16/32 to yield 2.536 percent.

Private sector jobs up by 43,000 in month

Roseland, N.J. -- Payroll company Automatic Data Processing said Wednesday the U.S. private sector gained 43,000 jobs in September to October.

The number of private sector jobs, a critical litmus test for the U.S. economic recovery, rose for the first time in three months. ADP however, revised the previously reported loss of 39,000 jobs a month ago to a loss of 2,000.

Previous to the two-month streak of losses, the economy had added jobs for six consecutive months.

Wednesday's report comes in advance of Friday's government employment report, which is considered more encompassing, as it also includes government jobs.

Grains mostly higher Tuesday

Chicago -- Grain futures closed higher Monday despite the dollar index snapping a downward streak with a gain of 0.77 percent.

Corn was up 2 1/4 to up 3 1/4, soybeans were off 1/2 to up 1 1/4, wheat was up 18 to up 19 and oats were up 6.

Corn futures rose modestly with the harvest more than 95 percent done in Illinois and Indiana. Wheat found support from the weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture progress report that pegged winter wheat conditions as poorer-than-expected. Soybean harvests are also nearing completion in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio, the USDA said.

The prices:

Corn: Dec. 5.71, up 2 1/4; Mar 5.84, up 2 1/2; May 5.90, up 2 3/4; Jul 5.94, up 3 1/4.

Consumer confidence up slightly

New York -- U.S. consumer confidence rose slightly in October after falling in September, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Index, which uses 1985 as a base year with an assigned value of 100, rose from 48.6 in September to 50.2, the research group said.

In October, the monthly survey of 5,000 households found the number of respondents indicating economic conditions were "good" rose from 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent. The number of respondents indicating conditions were "bad" fell from 46 percent to 41.9 percent.