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Business/Economy

  • Stocks resume sell-off; Dow finishes down 519--video extra

    NEW YORK (AP) — Back to reality and back down, Wall Street focused on the bleak landscape ahead for the economy Wednesday and wiped out its big gains from a day earlier — and then some.

    The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 519 points and has now lost more than 2,000 in less than three weeks. Swings of several hundred points in just minutes, accelerated by computerized trading, have become commonplace.

    This time, the selling was intensified by worries about in Europe. American bank stocks took hits because investors fretted that debt problems overseas might reach the United States.

  • Economic conditions whipsaw investors worldwide

    LONDON (AP) — Concerns over the financial health of Europe's banks and the state of the U.S. economy sent stocks sharply lower Tuesday, a day after the Federal Reserve's pledge to keep extremely low interest rates for two more years temporarily calmed market jitters.

    Shares in French banks took a particular pummeling in mid-afternoon trading on the Paris stock exchange on renewed market worries over France's bond rating and the European debt crisis. French bank Societe Generale's shares plunged more than 20 percent at one point, while stock in BNP Paribas was off nearly 10 percent and Credit Agricole fell more than 14 percent.

  • US stock futures fall after best day since 2009

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock futures fell Wednesday as markets remain shaky in what has been a volatile week.

    The Dow Jones industrial average surged on Tuesday to its biggest gain since 2009 after the Federal Reserve pledged to keep its key interest rate at nearly zero into 2013. The central bank also said it considered other "policy tools" to spur economic growth. Some investors took that to mean that more stimulus may be coming.

    But the Fed's statement included a dim outlook on the economy's strength. It said growth this year has been "considerably slower" than it expected and that it anticipates a slower pace of recovery over coming quarters.

  • Debt panel members face conflicting pressures

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Before even getting down to work, members of Congress' new debt-reduction supercommittee face pressures to rally behind partisan principles and to find even more savings than planned.

    House and Senate Republican leaders named their six appointees to the 12-member panel on Wednesday, a mix of partisans and pragmatists, veterans and freshmen. Senate Democrats named their three participants on Tuesday, leaving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to make her selections by next week.

    Members of both parties said the job of whittling down the government's enormous debt was urgent, yet critics expressed little hope that the bipartisan panel would be able to overcome stark political divides.

  • Fed to keep interest rate near zero for 2 years

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve sketched a dim outlook for the economy Tuesday, suggesting it will remain weak for two more years. As a result, the Fed said it expects to keep its key interest rate near zero through mid-2013.

    It's the first time the Fed has pegged its "exceptionally low" rates to a specific date. The Fed had previously said only that it would keep its key rate at record lows for "an extended period."

    The Fed announced no new efforts to energize the economy in its statement released after its one-day policy meeting. But the statement held out the promise of lower rates on mortgages and other consumer loans longer than many had assumed.

  • Dow rallies after Fed statement, up 429 points--video extra

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising at the closing of trading after the Federal Reserve said it has discussed policy moves it can make to spur the economy. The Fed also said growth has been slower than expected.

    The Dow Jones industrial average is closing up 429 points, or 4 percent, to 11,239.77.

    Stocks rallied in the last hour of trading. Stocks initially fell after the Fed made its statement, which included a pledge to keep interest rates at their record low until at least the middle of 2013.

    The S&P 500 is up 53, or 4.7 percent , to 1,172.53. The Nasdaq is up 124, or 5.3 percent, to 2,482.52

  • US stocks rise after Monday's big fall

    NEW YORK (AP) — Bargain hunters helped push the Dow back above 11,000 briefly Tuesday.

    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 193 points, or 1.8 percent, to 11,003 in morning trading. On Monday, the Dow had its worst day since 2008. It plunged 634.76 points as fear coursed through global markets.

    Investors worried about the first-ever downgrade to the U.S. credit rating, the slowing U.S. economy, debt problems in Europe and rising inflation in less-developed countries.

  • Plunge on Wall Street threatens to spook consumers

    WASHINGTON (AP) — It's the last thing a nervous consumer and a fragile economy needed: a confidence-killing nosedive on Wall Street.

    Americans struggling with lean wages, job insecurity and high gasoline prices have seen a 15-percent plunge in stock prices shrink their 401(k) accounts over the past 2½ weeks. When consumers feel less wealthy, they're less likely to buy new furniture, new appliances or new cars. And their spending drives about 70 percent of the economy.

    Murray Specktor, 58, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot, says he has enough money tucked away to support himself in retirement. But after the stock market's plunge, he's taking further precautions.

  • Stocks tank as markets enter bear market territory

    LONDON (AP) — Stocks tanked again Tuesday as many global markets entered official bear market territory after one of the worst days on Wall Street since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

    Asian markets briefly recouped many earlier losses and European stocks opened higher. That rally proved short-lived, as investors worried about the consequences of the U.S. credit downgrade, Europe's debt crisis and mounting expectations of a global recession.

    Many investors are looking for relatively safer assets to park their cash and the price of gold and the Swiss franc continued to rise to record levels.

  • S&P also downgrades Fannie and Freddie, US-backed debt

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Monday downgraded the credit ratings of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other entities linked to long-term U.S. debt.

    S&P also lowered the ratings for: farm lenders; long-term U.S. government-backed debt issued by 32 banks and credit unions; and three major clearinghouses, which are used to execute trades of stocks, bonds and options.

    All the downgrades were from AAA to AA+, reflecting the same downgrade S&P made of long-term U.S. government debt on Friday.

    The downgrade of the mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie reflected their "direct reliance" on the U.S. government, S&P said.