Financial News 12/18/11 – 12/24/11

Economy

-In a positive sign for the housing sector, housing starts jumped 9.3% in November primarily driven by apartments and other multifamily developments. It’s at its highest level in 19 months. 12/21

-Home resales rose 4% in November. The housing market is on pace to exceed last year’s home sales level. 12/22

-Consumer confidence climbed in December for the 4th month in a row. 12/23

-Initial jobless claims fell to 364K for the previous week, the lowest level since April of 2008. 12/23

-On its final revision GDP was moved down to 1.8% for the third quarter from the previously estimated 2.0%. 12/23

-Economists project a relatively meager growth rate of 2% for 2012. 12/23

-U.S. Consumer spending and income rose in November as both gained 0.1%. 12/24

Corporate

-Saab filed for bankruptcy and will sell its assets. 12/20

-After much regulatory scrutiny, AT&T has backed away from its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. 12/20

-Oracle’s second quarter profit rose 17%, but fell short of expectations driven by customers delaying purchases and causing slow growth in its core software business. The firm also announced a conservative growth forecast. The news is a worrisome sign for the tech industry. 12/21

-AT&T’s deal to purchase $1.9 billion in airwaves from Qualcomm was approved by the FCC. The deal increases AT&T’s network and bandwidth for customer downloads. 12/23

Regulatory

-Bank of America settled allegations that its Countrywide unit discriminated against minority borrowers. The firm will pay $335 million which is the largest settlement related to fair lending in history. 12/22

-A two month extension of the payroll tax cut was agreed to buy the House ending the protracted congressional stalemate. 12/23

-The Justice department has approved the merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse, however the deal still needs to be passed by European regulators. 12/23

Market

-On the news of the improving housing market, a successful Spanish debt auction, and improving business confidence in Germany global markets jumped for their best day in December. The Dow rose 337 points or 2.9%, the S&P soared up 3.0%, Europe rose 2.0%. The 10 year treasury yield rose to 1.927%. 12/21

-Over 500 euro zone banks took advantage of the ECB’s low interest 3 year loans and took out over $640 billion. 12/22

-The S&P 500 moved back into positive territory for the year on Friday and U.S. stocks hit a 5 month high. The S&P 500 rose 0.9% on Friday and is up 3.7% for the week and Europe was up 3.9% for the week. 12/24

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