November 25th, 2009
12:17 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Economic calendar stuffed for Thanksgiving

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/BUSINESS/01/06/toyota/art.toyota.gi.jpg caption="Federal regulators announced the recall of 110,000 Toyota pickup trucks in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Wave after wave of economic data washed ashore this morning as the government compresses its weekly calendar ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

First up, the number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell by 35,000 to 466,000 last week, the lowest level in 14 months.

Continuing claims also fell sharply - by 190,000 to 5.42 million – to the lowest level since February.

Keep in mind though that many analysts cautioned against reading too much into the sharp drop in claims, noting that part of the improvement was due to large seasonal adjustment factors which smooth out changes that occur at certain times of the year.

Consumers got back in the buying mood in October as their incomes grew modestly.

The Commerce Dept. says consumer spending rose 0.7% last month, following a pullback in September when spending plunged by 0.6%. That was the best showing since a 1.3% jump in August when the government's “Cash for Clunkers” boosted car sales.

Incomes, meanwhile, rose 0.2% for the second straight month.

But orders for big-ticket manufactured items fell unexpectedly in October as the economy struggles to get back to full health.

The Commerce Dept. says durable goods orders dropped 0.6% last month, following a 2% gain in September. It marked the first decline since August.

And new home sales spiked in October, one month after declining unexpectedly.

The Commerce Dept. said new home sales rose 6.2% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000 - far surpassing expectations. It was the sixth time new home sales had risen in the past seven months.

New houses sold in October for a median price of $212,200 and an average price of $261,100. There were 239,000 new homes on the market at the end of the month, a 6.7 month supply at the current sales rate.

That follows a report out Monday showing existing home sales surged more than 10% in October to the highest level in more than 2-1/2 years.

Trouble for Toyota… the Japanese car and truck giant announced today that it will fix gas pedals in at least 4 million cars for an accelerator problem that had previously been blamed on floor mats.

Toyota said that “the shape of the accelerator pedal will be reconfigured to address the risk of floor mat entrapment.” The company said that the floor of the vehicles will also be reconfigured.

And on Tuesday, Federal regulators announced the recall of 110,000 Toyota pickup trucks in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that road salts can cause “excessive corrosion” of the Tundra's frame, which holds a spare tire mounted underneath the vehicle. NHTSA said dislodged spare tires can cause hazards for other vehicles on the road.

The corrosion can also damage the rear brake lines and lead to brake system failures, the NHTSA said.

After balking at government imposed pay restrictions, AIG chief executive Robert Benmosche has officially agreed to a non-compete contract that could total $10.5 million, the company announced Tuesday.

Benmosche, who was named CEO in August, had expressed frustration with the constraints placed on AIG by the government after the insurance giant was bailed out last year to the tune of $182 billion.

He reportedly threatened to quit his post in board meetings earlier this month, before issuing a statement saying he is “totally committed” to staying on as CEO.

Benmosche is one of several high-level executives at seven private companies under the purview of the Obama administration's "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg.

An “excessively loud” triceratops and a little girl's chemical-laced purse were among the items listed in the U.S. Public Interest Research Group's 2009 list of dangerous toys released Tuesday.

The 24th annual report, “Trouble in Toyland,” targeted 16 examples of toys in 3 categories: toys that it considers dangerously loud, or containing small parts that may present choking hazards for small children, or containing toxic chemicals or lead.

The toys are made or marketed by various companies throughout the world.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Ignorant Consumer

    Let's get back to basics: what is a need and what is a want? Then make your purchase.

    November 25, 2009 at 12:49 pm |