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Business/Economy

  • Deficit 'supercommittee' struggles as clock ticks

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The supercommittee is struggling.

    After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer's budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month.

    While the panel members themselves aren't doing much talking, other lawmakers, aides and lobbyists closely tracking the committee are increasingly skeptical, even pessimistic, that the panel will be able to meet its assigned goal of at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years.

    The reason? A familiar deadlock over taxes and cuts to major programs like Medicare and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled.

  • Two Americans share Nobel economics prize

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — Americans Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims won the Nobel economics prize on Monday for research that sheds light on the cause-and-effect relationship between the economy and policy instruments such as interest rates and government spending.

    Sargent and Sims — both 68 — carried out their research independently in the 1970s and '80s, but it is highly relevant today as world governments and central banks seek ways to steer their economies away from another recession.

    The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the winners have developed methods for answering questions such as how economic growth and inflation are affected by a temporary increase in the interest rate or a tax cut.

  • Survey: US gas prices dip 13 cents in past 2 weeks

    CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — A survey says the average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped 13 cents over the past two weeks.

    The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday puts the price of a gallon of regular at $3.42, down 13 cents from two weeks earlier and down 25 cents in the past month.

    Costs have seen similar drops in midgrade, now at an average of $3.58 a gallon, and premium at $3.70.

    Diesel fell seven cents to $3.85 a gallon.

    Of the cities surveyed, Albuquerque, N.M., had the nation's lowest average price for gas at $3.07, and perennial price leader San Francisco had the highest at $3.81.

  • Unemployment rate stays at 9.1 percent

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers added 103,000 jobs in September, a modest burst of hiring after a sluggish summer.

    Nearly half of the gains last month occurred because 45,000 striking Verizon workers returned to their jobs.

    Still, job growth remains too weak to lower the unemployment rate, which stayed at 9.1 percent for the third straight month.

    The Labor Department also revised the previous two months to show that companies hired at a better pace than first estimated.

    Employers have added an average of only 72,000 jobs in the past five months. The economy must create twice as many just to keep up with population growth.

  • 30-year mortgage below 4 pct. for first time ever

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage this week fell below 4 percent for the first time ever, to 3.94 percent.

    For those who can qualify, it's an extraordinary opportunity to buy or refinance. And mortgage rates could fall even further now that the Federal Reserve plans to reshuffle its portfolio of securities to try and lower long-term rates.

    On Thursday, Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dropped from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record. The 15-year loan has fallen for six straight weeks.

  • More people sought unemployment aid last week

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that the job market remains weak.

    Weekly applications increased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 401,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

    The gain comes after applications plummeted by 33,000 in the previous week. The drop partly reflected technical difficulties with the department's seasonal adjustment process.

    The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell for the second straight week to 414,000, its lowest level in a month.

  • Stocks edge higher as service sector grows

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher in early trading Wednesday after a trade group reported that the service sector grew in September. Private company hiring also increased.

    The Institute of Supply Management said its gauge of the U.S. service sector, which employs 90 percent of the work force, continued to grow slowly in September as well. The index measures the strength of health care, banking, real estate, and other businesses outside of manufacturing.

    Payroll processor ADP said private companies added 91,000 jobs last month. That was a slight gain from August. ADP's figures do not always predict what the government's broad employment report, which will be released Friday, but they can often influence traders' expectations.

  • Bernanke says economic recovery close to faltering

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the economic recovery "is close to faltering" and the central bank is prepared to take further steps to support it.

    The economy is growing more slowly than the Federal Reserve had expected, Bernanke said Tuesday before the congressional Joint Economic Committee. He said the biggest factor depressing consumer confidence is poor job growth.

    "We need to make sure that the recovery continues and doesn't drop back and that the unemployment rate continues to fall downward," Bernanke said.

  • Protests against Wall Street spread across US--video extra

    NEW YORK (AP) — Protests against Wall Street entered their 18th day Tuesday as demonstrators across the country show their anger over the wobbly economy and what they see as corporate greed by marching on Federal Reserve banks and camping out in parks from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine.

    Demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the week as more groups hold organizational meetings and air their concerns on websites and through streaming video.

  • LANL Announces Venture Acceleration Fund Recipients

    Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has selected two New Mexico companies to receive an infusion of capital as part of the lab's technology transfer initiatives.

    Ideum and OnQueue are the latest recipients of awards from the Los Alamos National Security, LLC Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF).

    “Our VAF program provides much-needed capital to these promising companies, reducing their risk without the strings typically attached to equity investments,” said David Pesiri, the Laboratory’s Technology Transfer Division leader“Further, our team of experts is working closely with both companies to connect them with other resources—like mentors, customers, and contacts—to help make them sustainable and successful.”