Friday, 14 November 2008

Economic data dismal, US stocks surge

Thursday's US economic reports were gloomy. Reuters reports:

The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose by an unexpectedly steep 32,000 last week to 516,000, the highest since the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Labor Department said.

The number of workers still on the benefit rolls after drawing an initial week of aid hit 3.9 million in the week to November 1, the highest since January 1983...

Worried U.S. consumers also cut back on retail purchases for the second consecutive month in October, according to SpendingPulse data, which excludes auto sales.

Consumer spending fell 1.5 percent last month, after a 2.4 percent drop in September that was the largest since SpendingPulse started the data series in 2003...

A report from the Commerce Department showed a record drop in the price of imported oil and the lowest auto imports since February 2004, factors that helped trim the monthly trade gap to $56.5 billion, slightly below the $57 billion expected on Wall Street...

U.S. goods exports fell by a record $10.4 billion, with all major categories showing a decline. A sharp drop in exports of capital goods was led by civilian aircraft, after posting big numbers in the two prior months.

But the dismal data didn't stop investors from driving up stock prices. From Bloomberg:

U.S. stocks rallied the most in two weeks, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index jumping 6 percent in the final hour, as investors snapped up the cheapest energy shares on record and real-estate companies gained after CB Richard Ellis Inc. raised cash in a share sale...

The S&P 500 added 6.9 percent to 911.29, reversing a slide of 3.9 percent. The Dow increased 552.59 points, or 6.7 percent, to 8,835.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 6.5 percent to 1,596.7. More than 14 stocks rose for each that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where almost 2 billion shares changed hands in the busiest trading session since Oct. 16.

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