Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - August 6

Big Drop in Initial Jobless Claims - The Labor Department reported Thursday morning that first-time claims for state unemployment benefits declined by 38,000 to 550,000 last week. The four-week average of new claims dropped to 555,250, the lowest level since January. On Friday, the Labor Department will report on July unemployment figures. Economists estimate that the jobless rate will rise to 9.7%, and there will be 275,000 nonfarm payrolls to be lost.

Mortgage Rates Drop - The national average interest rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan averaged 5.22% versus last week's 5.25% and last year's 6.52%. The 15-year fixed-rate loan averaged 4.63% versus 4.69% and last year's 6.10%.

Sugar Jumps to Record High - White-sugar futures surged Thursday to a fresh record high of $521.80 a ton on Liffe in London, extending their recent rally amid concerns over production drops in India and Brazil while Mexico's bad weather has also been a potential problem. The previous record high of $514.60 a ton was set on Wednesday.

Natural Gas Inventories Rise - The EIA reported Thursday morning that natural gas inventories rose 66 billion cubic feet in the week ended July 31. Most analysts were predicting an increase of 50 billion cubic feet. After the data, natural gas for fell 19.7 cents (4.8%) to $3.847 per million BTUs. Natural gas had been down less than 1% prior to the data.

Fed Buys $7 Billion in Treasurys - The Federal Reserve bought $7 billion in Treasurys on Thursday, the second of two operations this week, from maturities ranging from 2016 to 2019.

The Fed is more than two-thirds of the way through the $300 billion in U.S. debt it promised in March to buy in an effort to keep borrowing costs, particularly for companies and homebuyers, affordable.

Ford to Push Rollout of New Cars by 2012 - Ford said Thursday it plans to accelerate its product rollout by replacing or refreshing 70% to 90% of its vehicle lineups by volume by 2012. Ford also said it is on pace to reduce its structural costs by $14 billion to $15 billion by the end of 2009 compared with costs in 2005. The automaker said it plans to build 680,000 vehicles per core global platform within five years, up from the current 345,000.

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