On Thursday May 5, 2011, 5:00 pm EDT
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing for jobless aid rose to an eight-month high last week and productivity growth slowed in the first quarter, clouding the outlook for an economy that is struggling to gain speed.
While the surprise jump in initial claims for unemployment benefits was blamed on factors ranging from spring break layoffs to the introduction of an emergency benefits program, economists said it corroborated reports this week indicating a loss of momentum in job creation.
New claims for state jobless benefits rose 43,000 to 474,000, the highest since mid-August, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had expected claims to fall.
National Home Prices Double Dip
Home prices have double dipped nationwide, now lower than their March 2009 trough, according to a new report from Clear Capital.
It was inevitable, and it was predicted (by me for sure) that a surge in sales of foreclosed properties and a big push by banks to facilitate short sales would force home prices down dramatically.
Sales of bank-owned (REO) properties hit 34.5 percent of the market, according to the survey, resulting in a national price drop of 4.9 percent quarterly and 5 percent year-over-year. National home prices have fallen 11.5 percent in the past nine months, a rate not seen since 2008. Add short sales, where the bank allows the borrower to sell for less than the value of the mortgage, and prices have nowhere to go but down.
"With more than one-third of national home sales being REO (bank owned), market prices are being weighed down as many markets have not regained enough footing to withstand the strain of the high proportion of REO sales," says Clear Capital's Alex Villacorta.
Oil plummets more than 8 percent as commodities battered
NEW YORK |(Reuters) - Oil plunged more than 8 percent on Thursday, heading for the third biggest daily drop in dollar terms on record, as concerns about economic growth and monetary tightening spurred a sell-off in commodities.