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Thursday, Jan 21st

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Jobless claims soar past 3 million to record high

jobless claims top 3.3 million

Americans displaced by the coronavirus crisis filed unemployment claims in record numbers last week, with the Labor Department reporting Thursday a surge to 3.28 million.

The number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. The previous week, which reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit, was 282,000, which was higher than expected at the time.

Consensus estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones showed an expectation for 1.5 million new claims, though individual forecasts on Wall Street had been anticipating a much higher number. The surge comes amid a crippling slowdown brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

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Dow tumbles again, nearly wiping out gains of Trump’s presidency

Stocks wipe out all gains in Trump eraThe Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6 percent on Wednesday under the 20,000 level, nearly erasing the iconic index's previous gains since President Donald Trump's inauguration and jeopardizing a key talking point for his reelection campaign.

Earlier in the day, the S&P 500 dropped so steeply that it triggered a market-wide suspension of trading for 15 minutes.

The plunge underscores the risk Trump took in tying his presidential reputation to stock prices, which can fall as easily as they rise, and in any case are only one indicator of the health of the economy.

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Fed cuts rates sharply in response to risk coronavirus poses to economy, markets

Fed cuts ratesThe Federal Reserve cut interest rates Tuesday in a rare emergency move, responding aggressively to the growing threat the coronavirus poses to the economy and financial markets.

The Fed lowered its key federal fund rates by half a percentage point to a range of 1% to 1.25%, the central bank said in a statement. It marked the Fed's first rate cut between scheduled meetings since the depths of the financial crisis in 2008.

Stocks swung wildly through the morning. After sliding earlier on the absence of a more forceful response from global central banks, the Dow was up more than 100 points after the Fed announced the rate cut. But then the blue-chip index reversed course and was down more than 200 points in midday trading.

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Bed Bath & Beyond plans to close at least 40 stores this year but open 15 new locations

bed Bath & Beyond to close 40 storesBed Bath & Beyond will be closing and opening stores this year.

The New Jersey-based home goods retailer, which also operates Buy Buy Baby, Harmon Face Values and World Market, announced mixed results during its fourth-quarter call with financial analysts this week.

"We expect to open approximately 15 new stores in fiscal 2019. This will be offset by a minimum of approximately 40 stores we expect to close," Robyn D'Elia, chief financial officer and treasurer, said during Wednesday's earnings call. "This number will grow unless we are able to negotiate more favorable lease terms with our landlords."

D'Elia said most of the "planned closures are for Bed Bath & Beyond stores."

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Federal deficit soars 32 percent to $895B

ocbThe federal deficit hit $895 billion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2018, an increase of $222 billion, or 32 percent, over the same period the previous year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The nonpartisan CBO reported that the central drivers of the increasing deficit were the Republican tax law and the bipartisan agreement to increase spending. As a result, revenue only rose 1 percent, failing to keep up with a 7 percent surge in spending, it added.

Revenue from individual and payroll taxes was up some $105 billion, or 4 percent, while corporate taxes fell $71 billion, or 30 percent.

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President Trump's early jobs tweet leads to criticism from Obama officials

Bureau of Labor StatisticsPresident Trump seemed excited about the release of Friday morning's job report.

"Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning," he tweeted.

The problem: The president's tweet came before the release of the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which breaks protocol about not commenting on the report before its public release. Trump's tweet hinted a positive report, providing a signal to markets.

Presidents typically get to see the numbers the day before, per a longstanding tradition. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, confirmed that he told the president about the numbers on Thursday night aboard Air Force One.

TVNL Comment: Trump broke the law with this move.  In the very least, he did his usual dumb thing: whatever he wants without consulting anyone.  For the duration of his presidency, Trump should not receive the numbers before the are made public.

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China's Xi renews vow to open economy, cut tariffs as U.S. trade row deepens

China's Xi vows to open eonomy, cut tariffsChinese President Xi Jinping promised on Tuesday to open the country’s economy further and lower import tariffs on products like cars, in a speech seen as an attempt to defuse an escalating trade dispute with the United States.

While much of his pledges were reiterations of previously announced reforms that foreign businesses say are long overdue, Xi’s comments sent stock markets and the U.S. dollar higher on hopes of a compromise that could avert a trade war.

Xi said China will widen market access for foreign investors, addressing a chief complaint of its trading partners and a point of contention for U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which has threatened billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods.

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