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July 15th, 2009
12:41 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Key inflation measure jumps

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/14/money.gas.prices/art.gas.pump.cnn.jpg caption="Gas prices dropped 1.3-cents overnight to $2.504"]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Consumer prices shot up in June by the largest amount in 11 months, reflecting the biggest jump in gasoline prices in nearly five years.

The Consumer Price Index, the Labor Department's key measure of inflation, rose 0.7% in June due mainly to higher energy and automobile prices. But the core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose a modest 0.2%.

And on a year-over-year basis, prices have fallen 1.4%. That’s the largest drop since 1950, when Harry Truman was president.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices
July 13th, 2009
12:34 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Wall Street waiting for banks

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Washington may be focused on the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, but Wall Street is prepping for earnings from the nation’s biggest banks.

Among the financial institutions reporting this week are Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup. Other big names like Johnson & Johnson, IBM, General Electric and Intel also report this week.

Traders are buzzing about Goldman Sachs in particular, which recently paid back its share of government bailout money. Analysts are predicting the bank earned a profit of more than $2 billion in the March-June period, due to its trading prowess across world markets.

If they’re right, Goldman’s rivals will once again be left to wonder exactly how the bank, long the envy of Wall Street, could have rebounded so dramatically only months after the nation’s financial industry was shaken to its core.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil
July 9th, 2009
12:42 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Fewer than expected file for unemployment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/09/art.job.seekers.jpg caption="New claims for jobless benefits fell 52,000 last week."]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell to lowest level since early January, while continuing claims jumped to a record-high.

New claims for jobless benefits tumbled by 52,000 to 565,000 - well below analysts' expectations.

However, analysts said last week's drop was distorted by a change in the pattern of seasonal layoffs in the automotive industry. Initial claims typically spike in July as automakers idle certain manufacturing plants, and the Labor Department adjusts its data for such seasonal factors.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices • Wall St.
July 2nd, 2009
01:22 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Unemployment rate hits 9.5%

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

We got a wave of jobs data this morning ahead of the long holiday weekend – and most of it troubling as the labor market took a step backwards last month.

Employers trimmed 467,000 jobs from their payrolls in June, compared with a revised loss of 322,000 jobs in May. This was the first time in four months that the number of jobs lost rose from the prior month.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose for the ninth straight month - climbing to 9.5% from 9.4% and hitting another 26-year high. But that was actually better than expectations.

However, the report contained even more discouraging data.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Finance • Gas Prices • Housing Market • Job Market
June 25th, 2009
02:19 PM ET

Financial dispatch: Bernanke denies threatening BofA

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke today denied accusations that he pressured Bank of America to follow through on its controversial purchase of Merrill Lynch or risk having top management removed.

Testifying on Capitol Hill, Bernanke countered charges made recently by BofA chief Ken Lewis, who maintained that Bernanke threatened him with his job when his company considered pulling out of the deal late last year.

“I did not tell Bank of America's management that the Federal Reserve would take action against the board or management," Bernanke said in prepared remarks.

The Fed chief also rejected charges by Lewis that he asked former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to act on his behalf, a charge made by Lewis earlier this year that came to light during a related investigation on Merrill Lynch bonuses.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Gas Prices
June 24th, 2009
03:25 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Fed sees signs of hope

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/12/22/bailout.accountability/art.citi.gi.jpg caption="Bailed out financial giant Citigroup plans to raise the base salaries of its employees."]
Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The Federal Reserve this afternoon held its key interest rate steady at near zero, and said in a statement that although the economy remains weak, there are signs of a recovery.

Policymakers said that the pace of the nation's economic decline is slowing and that household spending is showing signs of stabilizing.

The central bank also said conditions in financial markets have generally improved in recent months, and that while businesses continue to cut back staff and spending, their inventories are coming into line with demand.

Durable goods orders rise

Orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose sharply for a second straight month in May, and a key indicator of business investment surged by the largest amount in nearly five years.

The Commerce Department said this morning that durable goods orders rose 1.8% last month, far better than the 0.6 percent decline that economists expected.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices
June 23rd, 2009
02:59 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Carmakers get billions to go ‘green’

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/23/art.auto.bailout.jpg caption="Ford, Nissan and electric car start-up Tesla Motors will be the first companies to benefit from a new government program geared toward helping automakers produce more fuel-efficient vehicles."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

More government money is flowing into the auto industry.

It’s all part of a $25 billion loan program that Congress created to help automakers retool their factories to build cars that are at least 25% more fuel-efficient than vehicles made in 2005.

Ford, Nissan and electric car start-up Tesla Motors will be the first beneficiaries of that program. Ford is getting nearly $5.9 billion. Nissan will receive $1.6 billion and Tesla will receive $465 million. More than 100 auto and auto parts makers have applied to the program.

Ford says it will use some of the money to refit some of its truck and SUV plants for small-car production in North America. The company also has plans to build new flex-fuel vehicles and a variety of electric models.

Home sales rise, but prices plummet

Sales of previously-owned homes rose 2.4% last month as increasingly affordable home prices and a first-time tax credit attracted hesitant buyers.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices • Job Market
June 22nd, 2009
12:24 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Gas prices hit the brakes

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/06/18/smartphone.wars/art.iphone.afp.gi.jpg caption="Apple reported it sold over 1 million new iPhones after the release of its latest version this weekend."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

After rising nearly 32% since April 29th, gas finally decreased by 3-tenths of a cent overnight to $2.69. That puts an end to 54 straight days of increases.

The average price of a gallon of gas is down $1.424 or 34.6% from the record high price of $4.114 that AAA reported on July 17, 2008.

The highest gas prices are in Hawaii ($3.057) and California ($3.027). The cheapest gas prices are in South Carolina ($2.506).

One analyst says that Father’s Day represented the highest prices we’ll pay for the next few months – adding that gas should decrease between 5 to 15 cents in the upcoming weeks.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Gas Prices
June 18th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Health care costs to jump 9% in 2010

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Employers in the U.S. will see health care costs rise 9% in 2010, and most expect to pass on that increase to their workers – meaning higher deductibles, premiums and co-payments.

According to a report from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, more workers are likely to utilize their health insurance coverage as a result because they fear they will lose their jobs, and more uninsured and underinsured people will turn to Medicaid for coverage.

There are some 50 million Americans in this country that are uninsured.

Unemployment rolls decrease somewhat

Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, there's something for you in today's jobs report. The total number of Americans on the unemployment insurance rolls has dropped for the first time since early January, although first-time claims for jobless benefits rose slightly.

The Labor Dept. says the number of people claiming benefits for one week or more fell by 148,000 to 6,687,000 million, the largest drop in more than seven years and a sign that layoffs are easing.

Still, initial claims for unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to 608,000 last week, topping analysts' expectations.

On a state-by-state basis, Arkansas was the only state to report that initial claims decreased by more than 1,000. Pennsylvania reported the most new claims at 6,891.

Chrysler set to reopen most plants

Many Chrysler employees will soon be back on the back to work.

The automaker announced plans Wednesday to reopen 7 of its 11 assembly lines later this month for the first time since the day after the company filed for bankruptcy in April.

Chrysler said two plants in Michigan, one in St. Louis and one in Toledo will reopen during the week of June 29. Two factories in Ontario, Canada will also reopen as well as one in Mexico.

The 7 plants make a variety of Chrysler vehicles, including the Dodge Grand Caravan, Jeep Wrangler and the Chrysler Town & Country.

In addition, the company is reopening several factories that make powertrains, axles and other components used by the assembly plants. Chrysler's parts distribution centers, which supply parts to both plants and dealerships, will also reopen.

Auto startup to open plant in Louisiana

A new car company is planning to open its first factory in what used be a headlight plant in a small town in northern Louisiana.

Louisiana economic development officials are enthusiastic about the endeavor which they say will create thousands of jobs. But for now, executives with California-based V-Vehicles, which has backing from billionaire T. Boone Pickens and the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, are not saying exactly what type of vehicle the company plans to build.

Pickens has been active in promoting natural gas for use in automobiles, but it isn't clear what form of energy will fuel these cars.

No letup in gas prices

Gas prices rose 6-tenths of a cent overnight to $2.685 - the 51st consecutive increase.

In the last 51 days, the average price of gas has increased 63.7 cents or 31.1%. The average price of a gallon of gas is down $1.44 or 35.1% from the record high price of $4.114 that AAA reported on July 17, 2008.

The highest gas prices are in Hawaii ($3.041) and California ($3.025). The cheapest gas prices are in South Carolina ($2.503).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Finance • Gas Prices • Job Market
June 16th, 2009
02:21 PM ET

Financial dispatch: Chrysler turns the key

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/06/07/chrysler.fiat/art.chrysler.afp.gi.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Seven weeks after going bankrupt, Chrysler will soon be making cars again - and the first models off the line could cost more than $90,000.

The newly-formed Chrysler Group announced yesterday that it’s restarting one factory - the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit - which employs 115 people.

That’s the plant that makes the Dodge Viper sports car. The Viper has a 600 horsepower V-10 engine and a manufacturer’s suggested retail price tag that starts at $91,220. Only 25,000 Vipers have been sold since the car debuted in 1992.

One interesting note: The old Chrysler sought out Italy’s Fiat as a partner for its fuel-efficient technology. But the first car expected off the line from the new Chrysler – the Viper – gets an estimated 13 mpg in city driving.

GM finds buyer for Saab

 Bankrupt automaker General Motors has reached a preliminary agreement to sell its money-losing Saab unit to Swedish sportscar maker Koenigsegg.

The deal would see Saab, which was put up for sale earlier this year, emerge from two decades under the umbrella of GM.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Gas Prices • GM
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