Money Matters - Simplified


Market mixed in early afternoon trading

New York -- U.S. markets opened mixed Thursday after the U.S. Department of Labor reported first-time jobless claims fell by 17,000 in the week ending Dec. 4.

As expected, the Bank of England left its overnight lending rate unchanged at 0.5 percent Thursday. The leading index in Britain rose 0.4 percent in October, the Conference Board said.

In most of Asia and Europe markets rose. The dollar index, a pro-rated measure of the greenback against six major currencies, rose 0.32 percent to 80.26, climbing for the third consecutive trading session.

Consumer spending rose in October

Washington -- Personal income rose 0.5 percent in October with spending climbing 0.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday.

Spending was slightly less than expected, but beat September's gain of 0.3 percent. Incomes a month ago were unchanged.

Economists had predicted incomes would rise 0.4 percent and spending would rise 0.6 percent.

Spending on goods outpaced outlays on services, rising 0.8 percent. Consumer spending on services rose 0.1 percent.

Just before the holidays, disposable income rose 0.4 percent, a potential boon for retailers in November.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

Industrial output flat in October

Washington -- U.S. industrial production was unchanged in October after falling 0.2 percent in September, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday.

The Fed said manufacturing output rose 0.5 percent after rising 0.1 percent in September, a revised figure from a month ago.

Production at mines fell 0.1 percent after a gain of 0.1 percent in September. At the nation's utilities, production fell 3.4 percent due to an unseasonably warm October, which cut demand for heating.

Capacity utilization, measuring production as a percentage of manufacturing, mining and utilities operating at full steam, was flat at 74.8 percent in the month, 5.8 percentage points below the 1972 to 2009 average.

PPL purchase leaves changes on hold

Louisville, Ky. -- U.S. energy giant PPL's $7.6 billion purchase of LG&E and Kentucky Utilities, is notable for the what it leaves unchanged, at least for a while.

PPL, based in Pennsylvania, closed on the deal this week, purchasing the two utilities from German company E.On AG, the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal reported Tuesday. But PPL has agreed to leave LG&E's headquarters right where it is in Louisville and Kentucky Utilities' headquarters in Lexington, Ky., for 15 years, the newspaper reported.
It has also agreed not to raise base electric or gas rates or shrink the number of employees or the size of the firms' charitable donations for two years.

Several of the deals were negotiated by the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

Canada jobless claims unchanged in August

Ottawa -- The number of Canadians receiving unemployment benefits in August was unchanged from the previous month, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

In August, 671,200 unemployed workers received jobless benefits in the month, "virtually" the same as July, the agency said.

The number of beneficiaries has dropped by 158,100 from its June 2009 peak, about half way back to pre-recession levels. But the number of recipients has been gaining by an average of 5,700 per month since March, Statistics Canada said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

BOE keeps lending rate unchanged

London -- The Bank of England said Thursday it would keep its commercial reserve lending rate at 0.5 percent, a move widely expected.

The BOE has kept the rate unchanged since March 2009. Since then, the British economy has managed a lethargic recovery, posting gross domestic product growth of 1.2 percent in the second quarter compared to the first.

The BOE said it would continue with a $308 billion asset purchase, which it also began in March 2009.

The bank issued a brief statement Thursday, which is traditionally followed up by a release of meeting minutes three weeks after the policy decision.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

Bank of Korea keeps lending rate unchanged

Seoul -- The Bank of Korea said Thursday it would keep its seven-day repurchase rate unchanged at 2.25 percent, a move that surprised some bank observers.

Two months ago, the BOK raised its rate 0.25 percentage points. A month ago, policymakers elected to maintain the 2.25 percent rate, as they did Thursday. Bank Gov. Kim Choong-soo said at a news conference after the announcement in Seoul, "There is no change in the view about the need to normalize the policy stance," the Yonhap News Agency reported.

"The process of reaching the key rate's neutral level is not likely to be fast," he said, an indication that policymakers expect the rate to rise, but at a slower pace than expected.

BOK leaves interest rates unchanged

seoul -- The Bank of Korea kept its bank-to-bank lending rate unchanged at 2.25 percent Thursday, despite indications the U.S. economy had slowed.

Bank Gov. Kim Choong-soo said the South Korean economy "may have entered the expansionary phase," although expectations of a recovery in the United States had dimmed.

"The U.S. economy is recovering at a slower-than-expected pace, but it is not grave enough to change our views about the Korean economy," he said in a press conference, the Yonhap News Service reported.

Lending rates in Europe unchanged

Frankfurt, Germany -- The European Central Bank and the Bank of England Thursday said their historically low lending rates would remain unchanged for another month.

The BOE set its overnight bank-to-bank lending rate at 0.5 percent in March 2009 after a series of steps to lower the rate as the recent financial crisis escalated. The bank's policy makers said Thursday it would keep the rate low, although an explanation was not released.

The BOE schedules a release of meeting minutes for its policy decisions three weeks after the meetings are held.

Banks in Europe keep rates unchanged

Frankfurt, Germany -- Two central banks in Europe said Thursday they would keep their historically low bank-to-bank lending rates intact for another month.

Policymakers at the Bank of England said they would keep bank lending at 0.5 percent, while their counterparts at the European Central Bank agreed to maintain lending at 1 percent.

The BOE explains its decision with meeting minutes released three weeks after the monetary decision is made. At a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany, however, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said, "We expect the euro area economy to grow at a moderate and still uneven pace in an environment of high uncertainty."