Friday PM October 2nd, 2009

Unemployment rate rises to 9.8 per cent nationwide…Foreclosure prevention seminar set for this weekend…Overall investment dips for clean technology sector…

The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September as employers cut more jobs than expected, evidence that the longest recession since the 1930s is still inflicting widespread pain. The Labor Department says the nation’s economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month, up from a downwardly revised total of 201,000 in August. That’s above Wall Street economists’ expectations of 180,000 job losses, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 per cent in August, matching expectations. If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate rose to 17 per cent, the highest on records dating from 1994.

Vice President Joe Biden says news that unemployment jumped to 9.8 per cent in September doesn’t shake his confidence that “we are going to recover” from the slump. The government reported a one-tenth of a percentage point jump in the unemployment rate, from 9.7 per cent in August to 9.8 per cent last month. Biden noted the 263,000 jobs lost in September was significantly down from the average 700,000 jobs the economy was shedding monthly when President Barack Obama took office. But the vice president also said that “less bad is not our measure of success.” He said the administration is working hard “on every front” to turn around the economy. Biden said it will happen, but not without setbacks.

Congressman Al Green has organized a four-hour foreclosure prevention seminar for Saturday, focusing on loan modification and refinancing services available.


“People will have one-on-one counseling. We’ll have lenders there—Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorganChase, Citibank, Wells Fargo are among the lenders that will be present. So you really have an opportunity now to do more than talk about credit counseling and what can be done. We want to move from what can be done to actually doing things to help people with loan refinance and loan modification. There will be persons there to help with foreclosure counseling, loan modifications, refinancing services, home buying information, debt, credit and money management information, as well.”

The foreclosure prevention seminar is set for Saturday at ten, at the Houston Community College Willie Lee Gay campus on Airport.

New orders to U.S. factories fell in August by the largest amount in five months, as American manufacturers struggle to emerge from the recession. The Commerce Department says demand for manufactured goods dropped 0.8 per cent, much worse than the 0.7 per cent gain that economists had expected. The August decline reflected plunging demand for commercial aircraft, a category that surged in July. Economists worry that factories will remain under pressure because of weak consumer spending as American households deal with continued layoffs and rising unemployment.

A London-based research firm says third-quarter overall investment dipped for the clean technology sector which was hampered by a lack of access to credit markets. New Energy Finance has reported that global investment in clean tech was about $25.9 billion in the third quarter, down 22 per cent from the year-earlier quarter. The total is nine per cent less than the second quarter but nearly double the $13.3 billion invested from January to March. The investment figure includes venture capital, private and public equity, asset financing, bonds and corporate debt.

A special review has found that the brokerage industry’s self-policing body must make reforms to protect investors after its inspections failed to uncover the massive ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff and the alleged fraud by R.Allen Stanford. The special committee’s review recommends the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s brokerage examination program be revamped to ensure that detecting and preventing fraud are central elements. The review found that FINRA lacks a central database for its examiners with investors’ complaints about firms, so staff members missed numerous “red flags” on Stanford’s firm.

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. this week rose by seven to 1,024. Houston-based Baker Hughes said that 712 rigs were exploring for natural gas and 303 for oil. Nine were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 1,979. Texas gained 14 rigs. Colorado lost seven rigs. The rig count tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted a record low of 488 in 1999.

The Washington Post is teaming up with Bloomberg News on an information service that will focus on political and economics coverage beginning next year. The partnership fills a void created by the dissolution of a 47-year-old news service that the post and the Los Angeles Times had jointly owned. New York-based Bloomberg specializes in financial news and caters to investors, bankers and traders in the stock, bond and commodities markets. The Washington Post is the fifth largest U.S. newspaper with a weekday circulation of 665,000. Besides distributing about 120 stories per day beginning January 1st to other news organizations, the Post and Bloomberg will share content with each other and co-produce an online business news page on the Post’s Web site. Financial terms aren’t being disclosed.

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