Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - June 18

Recession Is Losing Steam - The U.S. recession is "losing steam" and a slow recovery should begin by the end of the year, the Conference Board said Thursday as it announced that the index of leading economic indicators rose 1.2% in May, the second straight increase. Seven of the 10 indicators improved in May, the board said. The leading index is up 1.2% in the past six months, the first increase since April 2007. The coincident index fell 0.2% in May, "but the declines are less intense," said Ken Goldstein, an economist for the organization.

Continuing Jobless Claims Fall By 148,000 - The Labor Department on Thursday morning reported that continuing jobless claims fell by 148,000 to 6.68 million during the week ending June 6. It was the lowest since May 9. Initial claims, meanwhile, rose by 3,000 to 608,000. The four-week average of continuing claims rose by 2,250 to 6.75 million. The insured unemployment rate fell to 5.0%.

Mortgage Rates Fall - On the news that inflation is not rearing its ugly head, mortgage rates across the board fell. Typically, as inflation fears creep in, mortgage rates rise in expectation. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.38% in Freddie Mac's weekly survey, down from 5.59% a week ago. That erased most of the big jump from a week earlier, when rates shot up from 5.29%. The 30-year is still well below its year-ago levels, when the national average rate on the loan was 6.42%. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.89%, down from 5.06%. A year ago the 15-year averaged 6.02%.

Clean Energy - Nuclear Plant in Ohio - Any news when it comes to clean energy has been good news, and as discussed previously in this blog, nuclear energy (and natural gas) should be a part of a plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The announcement on Thursday by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Duke Energy, Areva, USEC, and UniStar Nuclear Energy that they had formed an alliance to build a nuclear power plant at a U.S. Department of Energy site in Piketon, Ohio should be considered progress. Dubbed as "The Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park Alliance," the partnership will evaluate the site as a potential location for a new nuclear power plant. The clean energy park comes after a DOE effort to convert former weapons sites for energy production.

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