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Business/Economy

  • 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.

  • Dow plunges more than 600 points after downgrade--video extras

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks plunged Monday as anxiety overtook investors on the first trading day since Standard & Poor's downgraded American debt.

    The Dow Jones industrials fell 634.76 points. It was the sixth worst point decline for the Dow in the last 112 years and the worst one-day drop since December 2008. Every stock in the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined Monday.

    Investors worried about the slowing U.S. economy, escalating debt problems threatening Europe and the prospect that fear in the markets would reinforce itself, as it did during the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

  • S&P officials defend US credit downgrade

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Standard & Poor's says it downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating because it believes the U.S. will keep having problems getting its finances under control.

    S&P officials on Saturday defended their decision to drop the government's rating to AA+ from the top rating, AAA. The Obama administration called the move a hasty decision based on wrong calculations about the federal budget. It had tried to head off the downgrade before it was announced late Friday.

  • Stocks waver as optimism about job report fades

    Stocks are moving between small gains and losses Friday, giving up an early rally after the government reported that hiring picked up in July.

    European leaders are calling emergency meetings and seeking to reassure markets that a large nation such as Italy or Spain won't become the latest country in the region to need a financial backstop.

  • Unemployment rate dips, economy adds 117K jobs

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring picked up slightly in July and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent, an optimistic sign after the worst day on Wall Street in nearly three years.

    Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. That's better than the past two months, which were also revised higher.

    The mild improvement may ease investors' concerns after the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points over concerns that the U.S. may be entering another recession.

    Still, the economy needs twice as many net jobs per month to rapidly reduce unemployment. The rate has topped 9 percent in every month except two since the recession officially ended in June 2009.

  • Unemployment rate dips as many give up looking for work

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring picked up only slightly in July and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent, a dubious sign after the worst day on Wall Street in nearly three years.

    The Labor Department says employers added 117,000 jobs last month. That's an improvement from the past two months.

    The unemployment rate fell partly because some unemployed workers stopped looking for work. That means they are no longer counted as unemployed.

    The mild gain may ease investors' concerns after the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points over concerns that the U.S. may be entering another recession.

  • Unemployment aid applications tick down to 400K

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Weekly applications for unemployment benefits edged down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the lowest level in four months. The previous week's figure was revised upward from 398,000 to 401,000.

    The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped for the fifth straight week to 407,750. That suggests there is a downward trend in layoffs.

    Applications "have been grinding lower, and this week's result is at least not bad news, which at this point feels pretty good," said Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital markets, in an email.

    Stock futures fluctuated after the report was released before erasing earlier losses.