U.S. and World News
- The Senate has passed a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for 2.8 million people who have been out of work for at least six months. The legislation would restore the payout for five months retroactive to December, when the payouts expired. The bill will now be reviewed by the House, where approval is expected to be harder to come by due to concerns about costs of the extension.
- The world’s largest election began this week in India with an electorate of 815 million people. The ballot comprises of nine rounds and will take five weeks with results due on May 16th. The favorite to win is the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi, who has the support of businesses in the country. There are hopes that, if elected, he could form a stable coalition and revive India’s lackluster economy.
- Ukraine’s security forces have been attempting to clear Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, of separatists as the government tries to counteract what it sees as Russian schemes to engineer further annexations. Violence has flared up recently amid pro-Russian demonstrations in Ukraine.
- The Illinois House and Senate approved a bill that would increase employee contributions to two Chicago city pension systems and will cut future cost of living increases for retirees. The bill is the start of an attempt to deal with a pension system that has a shortfall of around $20 billion, with some funds on track to completely run out of money within a decade.
- Stock markets continued their slide this week that began last Friday. The S&P 500 was down 2.61% for the week, closing at 1,816.The Dow Jones fell 2.31%, closing at 16,026. So far in 2014, the S&P is down 1.20% and the Dow Jones is down 2.69%.
- Treasury yields fell this week in conjunction with falling stock prices as the growth prospects of the U.S. economy have been called into question. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.58% and 2.63%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil ended the week up 2.28%, closing at $103.40 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have risen 5.52%.
- The spot price of Gold rose by 1.14% this week, closing at $1,318.34 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 9.71%.
- Initial jobless claims dropped by 32,000 from last week, coming in at 300,000 vs. consensus estimates of 320,000. The level of claims was a post-recession low and was the best reading since May 2007. The four week moving average for claims fell to 316,000, continuing the improvement in this timely measure of employment.
Fact of the Week
- According to the IRS, eliminating the deduction for home mortgage interest expense would increase annual tax revenues to the U.S. government by $175 billion, a boost of 6.3%.
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