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Friday, August 19, 2011

Planet X on RT news

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Us Stock sneeze gives Europe & Asia chills

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Jobless Claims in U.S. Top Forecast

More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, signaling the labor market is struggling two years into the economic recovery.

Jobless claims climbed by 9,000 to 408,000 in the week ended Aug. 13, the highest in a month, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a rise in claims to 400,000, according to the median forecast. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls rose, while those receiving extended payments fell.

Companies like Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) are paring staff, one reason consumers are limiting their spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Unemployment at 9.1 percent helps explain why Federal Reserve policy makers last week pledged to hold interest rates at a record low until at least mid-2013 to spur growth.

“People continue to get laid off,” David Semmens, a U.S. economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York, said before the report. “The uncertainty in the economic outlook is continuing to give hiring managers sleepless nights and is keeping businesses from expanding. We have an incredibly long way to go” to get a healthy labor market, Semmens said.

Jobless benefits applications were projected to rise from the 395,000 initially reported for the prior week, according to the median forecast of 41 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Estimates ranged from 390,000 to 420,000.

Stock-index futures held earlier losses after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index maturing in September fell 2.2 percent to 1,163.40 at 8:39 a.m. in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.1 percent from 2.17 percent late yesterday.
Four-Week Average

Today’s data showed the four-week moving average, a less- volatile measure than the weekly figures, dropped to 402,500 last week, the lowest since April 16, from 406,000.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits climbed by 7,000 in the week ended Aug. 6 to 3.7 million.

The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.

Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by about 43,700 to 3.66 million in the week ended July 30.

The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits, which tends to track the jobless rate, held at 2.9 percent in the week ended Aug. 6, today’s report showed.
By State

Thirty-four states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 18 reported a decline. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Businesses reducing headcount include Bank of New York Mellon Corp. The world’s largest custody bank plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 3 percent of the workforce, after expenses surged in the second quarter. It will implement an immediate hiring freeze across most departments and reduce its use of temporary workers, consultants and contractors.

“Expenses have been growing unsustainably faster” than revenue,Robert Kelly, BNY Mellon’s chief executive officer, said in a statement on Aug. 10. “We expect our natural turnover and immediate hiring freeze will reduce the impact on existing staff” from the reductions.

Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth -- measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report -- accelerates.
July Employment

Payrolls grew by 117,000 in July, bringing the average gain over the past three months to 111,000, according to Labor Department data. That was about half the 204,000 increase on average in the first four months of the year.

The lack of a pickup in hiring and an economy that’s growing “considerably slower” than expected prompted Fed policy makers to pledge for the first time to keep the benchmark interest rate at a record low at least through mid-2013.

“Indicators suggest a deterioration in overall labor market conditions in recent months,” theFederal Open Market Committee said in a statement on Aug. 9 after its meeting. “The unemployment rate will decline only gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate” of maximum employment and price stability.

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Giant Dust Storm Rolls Through Phoenix, Downing Power Lines

Arizona Dust Storm.jpg

PHOENIX – A giant wall of dust rolled through the Phoenix area on Thursday for the third time since early July -- turning the sky brown, creating dangerous driving conditions and delaying some airline flights.

The dust storm, also known as a haboob in Arabic and around Arizona, swept through Pinal County and headed northeast, reaching Phoenix at about 6 p.m.

Some incoming and departing flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were delayed about 40 minutes because of the storm, according to airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez. She said take-offs and landings resumed at Sky Harbor about 6:50 p.m.

National Weather Service meteorologists said a powerful thunderstorm packing winds of up to 60 mph hit Pinal County and pushed the dust storm toward Arizona's most populous county. There were several reports of downed poles and Salt River Project officials said 3,500 of its customers were without electricity, mostly in the Queen Creek area southeast of Phoenix.

Power lines landed on top of several cars and one elementary school bus in Pinal County, but county spokesman Elias Johnson said there were no reported injuries and everyone got out safely including the four students on the bus.

It was the third major dust storm to hit the Phoenix metro area since last month. A haboob on July 5 brought a mile-high wall of dust that halted airline flights, knocked out power for 10,000 people and covered everything in its path with a thick sheet of dust. Another dust storm hit July 18 reaching heights of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, delaying flights and cutting off power for more than 2,000 people in the Phoenix metro area.

Weather officials say haboobs only happen in Arizona, the Sahara desert and parts of the Middle East because of dry conditions and large amounts of sand.

Pollution levels skyrocket during dust storms and create even more breathing problems for people with asthma and other similar conditions.


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Iron Dome intercepts 2 rockets fired at Israel

Iron Dome system Photo: Hertzl Yosef

While the IDF continued to search for the terrorists who committed four deadly attacks in the south, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets fired at Ashkelon from Gaza.

Four rockets were fired altogether, of which the system intercepted two. The other two exploded in open spaces, and no injuries or damage were reported.
Of the first rocket attack, Yaakov Ronen, a resident of the city, told Ynet, "I heard a siren and went to the window. I am certain that Iron Dome was activated because I saw smoke go up."

Lucy Zutub, another resident of the city, also reported hearing a loud blast.
Meanwhile, defense officials said Thursday that Iron Dome would be re-deployed in Beersheba, due to fears that the IDF's retaliation in Gaza to the days' terror attacks would cause an escalation of violence there, as well.


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Dark clouds over US economy

US construction

IT'S not always sunny in Philadelphia. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has reported severe dark clouds over the area's factory sector.
The central bank's general business activity index plunged to a reading of minus 30.7, a level usually not seen unless the US is in recession.
Manufacturers reported contractions in orders, shipments, order backlog and employment.
The Philly Fed pointed out the survey was taken from August 8-16, a time of extreme market volatility when investors, businesses and voters reacted negatively to the S&P downgrade of US debt, questions about the US banking system and the euro-zone debt drama.
But the new orders index has been weak for three months, meaning Philadelphia-area manufacturers were struggling with weak demand well before Washington leaders took the federal government up to the brink of default.
And the factory heartbreak isn't confined to the City of Brotherly Love. On Monday, the Fed Bank of New York also reported a surprise drop in its factory survey.
The news outside of manufacturing is also disturbing for the third-quarter economic outlook.
Sales of existing homes unexpectedly fell by 3.5 per cent in July to an annual rate of just 4.67 million, the lowest selling pace since last November.
Meanwhile, consumers who still were buying in early August are contending with a severe budget squeeze thanks to rising prices -- and not just from food and energy.
Total consumer prices were up 3.6 per cent in the year ended in July, and even without food and fuel, core prices increased 1.8 per cent, an acceleration from 0.8 per cent at the end of 2010. With price gains outpacing weak nominal pay raises, real weekly earnings are down 1.3 per cent since their recent peak in October 2010.
Unless real incomes pick up, consumers will be hard-pressed to keep lifting their spending --especially since drops in equities and home prices are eroding wealth once again.
Thanks to the coming benefits of falling energy costs and expected increases in business spending, the US still looks to be able to avoid a second recession.
That, at least, is what Fed officials and government policymakers hope.
But with each new weak piece of data, the risks of a downturn increase.

Wall Street Jounal

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The Domino Effect of Europe Bank Woes

Concerns over the health of European banks are rattling markets Thursday.

So it’s worth taking a closer look at which dominos are likely to start tumbling.

Investors are still quite spooked about the financial sector. When bad news about banks hits the headlines, there is a knee-jerk tendency to sell shares, redeem funds with exposure to the banks, and seek safe-haven.

Today’s Wall Street Journal story said that officials at the Federal Reserve have been in talks with the heads of European banks with U.S. businesses. This could be taken as a reassuring sign that regulators are proactively attempting to address potential problems. Lots of investors are probably going to take the most conservative view, however, viewing it as a sign of real problems.

This leads to selling, not just European bank shares, but U.S. bank shares. Why? Part of the reason is that we just don’t know how interconnected various financial institutions are with each other. But 2008 taught us that just because we don’t see the connections, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

There’s also the problem with hedge funds trying to hedge exposure to European banks. The short-selling ban on European banks makes hedging exposure more difficult. One response by some hedge funds will be to short U.S. banks as a proxy.

Large depositors are also likely to flee, withdrawing money out of European banks and putting them in U.S. banks. There’s no evidence of anything like a bank run underway, though at the margin, it’s likely the European banks are seeing withdrawals.

Then we have the prime money-market funds . The yield on these funds is so small right now that some smart people on Wall Street wonder why anyone has money in them at all. If you are being paid 0.04 percent for any amount of risk, why not just stick it in a risk-free account, perhaps a money-market fund that owns only Treasury bonds, or just buy Treasury bonds directly.

Yet there still is a lot of money in prime funds. Some of that is likely to be withdrawn by investors concerned about the exposure of the funds to the financial sector. Money-market funds are ordinarily a big source of short-term funding for both U.S. and European banks with dollar obligations. So fears about Europe or the financial sector translate into redemptions at money-market funds.


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Closing Bell: TSX ends down 3% on recession, bank fears

Getty Images

Markets plunged on Thursday, after a few days of moderate gains, followed by soft losses, due to a raft of sour economic news from the United States and a growing lack of confidence in the measures announced by European leaders to deal with the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.
Here are the closing numbers
TSX — 12,186.71 (3.12%) down 392.90 points
S&P 500 — 1132.29 (5.16%), down 61.60 points
Dow — 10,990.58 (3.68%), down 419.63 points
Nasdaq — 2,380.43 (5.22%), down 131.05 points
The price of crude oil lost $5.20 to close at $82.38 US a barrel. Gold, on other hand, firmly crossed the $1,800 mark, closing at $1,822.00, a gain of $28.20, as investors fled risk.
The Canadian dollar had erased some of its earlier losses, but was still down just over a cent in late-afternoon trading, at $1.0106, a drop of 1.1 cents.
The Dow Jones industrial average had fallen 417.96 points, or 3.66 per cent, to 10,992.25 ahead of the closing bell, and the Nasdaq composite index had dropped 131.05 points, or 5.22 per cent, to 2,380.43.
Markets overseas lost ground on Thursday as well. The Nikkei in Tokyo fell 1.25 per cent, and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong closed with a 1.34 per cent loss. The declines were sharper in Europe, where London’s FTSE fell 4.49 per cent, the CAC in Paris dropped 5.48 per cent and Frankfurt’s DAX fell 5.82 per cent.

Financial Post

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Russia to supply Antei-2500 missile systems to Turkey

Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport is taking part in a tender to supply the Antei-2500 air defense systems to Turkey.

A statement to this effect was made on Wednesday by Rosoboronexport chief Anatoly Isaikin, who also confirmed information about Russia stopping the production of the S-300 surface-to-air systems and instead focusing on manufacturing S-400 missile complexes.
As to the Antei-2500 missile system, it is a modernized version of the S-300 complex, which is still in great demand in many countries, Isaikin explained.

The voice of Russia
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