Job Claims Hit 42-Year High; Dodd's Vengeance; Durable Goods Orders Slowing Slide; 3Com Profit Down but Stock Up; Amazon Profit Up 9%; Crude Prices Down as Inventories Build; Kodak Paints Unflattering Picture
- Continuing jobless claims rose to 4.78 million, the highest levels in 42 years, as the U.S. labor market continues to worsen MarketWatch reported. Meanwhile, the four-week average of new claims rose by 24,250 to 542,500. The four-week average draws the attention of economists and investors because it smoothes out distortions caused by bad weather, strikes or the timing of holidays. Compared with the same week a year ago, first-time jobless claims are up about 63%, while continuing claims are up 71%.
- Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, is going after money awarded as bonuses to financial industry executives, Bloomberg reported. Dodd said he wants executives who took billions of dollars in government-rescue funds to repay the bonuses. A report yesterday showed New York City financial firms disbursed $18.4 billion in cash bonuses in 2008 as the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program infused almost $200 billion into banks.
- Orders for durable goods dropped 2.6% last month after plunging 3.7% in November, the Commerce Department said. It was the fifth straight month new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods had fallen, reflecting an ongoing pullback in the economy. For 2008 as a whole, orders tumbled 5%, the second biggest decline since 2001, Reuters reported.
- 3M Co. (MMM) said on Thursday that fourth-quarter profit and sales fell due to the economic downturn, but the company's stock rose on hopes that the industrial manufacturer is well positioned for growth in the latter half of 2009, Reuters reported. The company is a bellwether of the U.S. economy because of its geographic reach and varied lineup of products including Scotch tape to optical films for liquid crystal displays.
- Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) yesterday (Thursday) that its fourth-quarter profit rose 9% after having its "best ever" holiday season. For the full year, Amazon earned $645 million, or $1.49 per share, on $19.2 billion in revenue. The company earned $476 million, or $1.12 per share, on revenue of $14.8 billion during 2007.
- Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell 72 cents yesterday (Thursday) to settle at $41.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Storage tanks in the United States are housing more than 338.9 million barrels of crude oil, up from 15.7% from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.
- Eastman Kodak Co. (EK) said yesterday (Thursday) that it would cut up to 4,500 jobs after the company reported a 24% drop in fourth-quarter revenue. Kodak reported a loss of $137 million, or 51 cents per share, from continuing operations, compared with a profit of $215 million, or 75 cents per share, a year earlier.