[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/04/02/japan.sweden/art.obama.g20.dinner.gi.jpg caption="President Obama is discussing the global economic crisis with other world leaders at the G-20 summit this week."]
CNN Financial News Producer
More dreary news on the unemployment front today ahead of Friday’s big jobs report for March.
The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week while the number of people continuing to claim benefits set a record for the 10th straight week.
First-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 12,000 to 669,000 from the previous week revised figure of 657,000.
The number of people receiving benefits for one week or more, meanwhile, rose by 161,000 to 5.73 million. That’s the highest number on records dating back to 1967.
The increasing number of people continuing to file for unemployment benefits suggests that Americans are struggling to re-enter the workforce.
Stocks on Wall Street roared out of the gate this morning, sending the Dow Industrials above the 8,000 level for the first time in seven weeks.
Today’s rally is being sparked by several factors, including the news out of the G20 Summit in London and a change in the accounting rules that affect how banks value some of the so-called “toxic” assets on their balance sheets.
More now on those “toxic” assets… the board that sets U.S. accounting standards is expected to give companies more leeway when valuing assets, providing a potential boost to banks’ balance sheets.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board - a private-sector body that sets the nation’s bookkeeping rules - is set to vote to adopt new guidelines under the so-called “mark-to-market” accounting rules, which require companies to value assets at prices reflecting current market conditions.
The changes would allow companies to use significant judgment in valuing assets to reduce write-downs on certain investments, including mortgage-backed securities.
The rule changes come just as the nation’s big banks are preparing to issue their first-quarter results, and analysts are expecting another rough ride for the likes of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
The new FASB rules could help boost banks' earnings significantly by making it clear that institutions can account for mortgage-backed securities and other assets based on their internal estimates, rather than relying on sales prices.
Former AIG Chief Executive Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, blaming his successors for the mistakes that led to the company's failure, told Congress today that the government's plan to unwind the insurance giant is not working and threatens its ability to pay back the billions it has received in taxpayer funds.
In testimony before a House oversight committee hearing, Greenberg said AIG's problems stem from decisions that came after his 2005 departure. He said the company’s overseers must reverse their current strategy of selling off AIG's assets and maintaining an 80% ownership stake in the company.
Greenberg, 83, ran AIG for nearly four decades until he was ousted in 2005 over an accounting fraud scandal. He was never charged in a federal case that led to five convictions.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says he would consider forcing out CEOs of banks that receive government bailouts if they were not managing their businesses properly.
In an interview with CBS on Wednesday, Geithner said economic recovery depends on a financial system that effectively provides credit, and the government would hold companies receiving public aid accountable.
When asked whether he left open the option to pressure a bank CEO to resign, Geithner responded, “Of course.”
Gas prices declined by 2-tenths of a cent overnight to $2.045 a gallon.
28 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.520).
22 states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The cheapest gas prices are in Wyoming ($1.859).
The national housing slump is finally crashing on the shores of Manhattan, which had its worst quarter in years, according to several industry reports released on today.
The big hit was seen in sales volume, which plummeted 48% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the previous quarter and year.
Meanwhile, the median sales price of all condo and co-op apartments sold rose 6%, to $907,500, in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008.
CNNMoney.com has an interactive map that let’s you see where home prices are headed all over the country.
Finally, even in death, people are cutting costs.
Industry insiders say more people are economizing on funerals by cutting back on elements such as limousines, wakes and embalming - and opting for cremations rather than burials.
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