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Claims for Jobless Benefits Rise

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits for the first time rose a slight 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, evidence that the job market’s recovery remains modest and uneven.

Separately, the Commerce Department said new-home sales rose 3.6 percent in July.

Applications for unemployment benefits are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they fall consistently below 375,000, it generally suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

New claims for unemployment benefits have risen for two straight weeks. But they are still lower than they were five weeks ago. That suggests hiring may be improving slightly this month.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 3,750 last week to 368,000.

Better economic growth bolstered hiring last month, according to government figures. Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the most since February. Job gains averaged only 73,000 jobs a month from April through June, not enough to keep up with a rising population. The unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in July, from 8.2 percent the month before.

Many economists say stronger growth is needed to create enough jobs to lower unemployment. The economy grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent from April through June, down from 2 percent in the first quarter and 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

In a separate report, the government said sales of newly constructed homes in the United States rose 3.6 percent in July, matching a two-year high, to an annual rate of 372,000 units.

In the past 12 months, new-home sales have jumped 25 percent. Still, the increase is from a historically low level. New-home sales are well below the annual pace of 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that there aren’t many newly built homes available. New homes for sale dipped last month to 142,000, the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

Claims for Jobless Benefits Rise

IMF cuts global growth forecast; warns on euro zone

Concerns about weaker growth have now also moved to emerging economies. The IMF said they are facing “extraordinary uncertainty” as global growth slows and investors shun riskier assets. (AFP)

Concerns about weaker growth have now also moved to emerging economies. The IMF said they are facing “extraordinary uncertainty” as global growth slows and investors shun riskier assets.

By LESLEY WROUGHTON

The International Monetary Fund on Monday cut its global growth forecast and warned that the outlook could dim further if policymakers in Europe do not act with enough force and speed to quell their region’s debt crisis.

In a mid-year health check of the work economy, the IMF also cautioned the productive capacity in a number of emerging market economies, such as China, India and Brazil, may be lower than previously believed and future growth could disappoint.

The IMF shaved its 2013 forecast for global economic growth to 3.9 percent from the 4.1 percent it projected in April, trimming projections for most advanced and emerging economies. It left its 2012 forecast unchanged at 3.5 percent.

“Downside risks to this weaker global outlook continue to loom large,” the IMF said in an update of its World Economic Outlook. “The most immediate risk is still that delayed or insufficient policy action will further escalate the euro area crisis.”

The global lender said advanced economies would only grow 1.4 percent this year and 1.9 percent in 2013.

It chopped its forecast for growth in emerging economies this year and next, projecting they will expand 5.9 percent in 2013 and 5.6 percent in 2012. Both figures are 0.1 percentage point lower than in April.

The IMF cut its growth forecast for the crisis-hit euro zone to 0.7 percent in 2013, while maintaining its projection of a 0.3 percent contraction this year. It said it now believes Spain’s economy will shrink both this year and next.

The IMF sharply revised down its growth projections for the United Kingdom to 0.2 percent this year and to 1.4 percent in 2013. In April, the fund said the UK economy would expand 0.8 percent in 2012 and 2.0 percent next year.
Moving in the right direction, but…

The fund praised measures adopted by European leaders at a summit in June as “steps in the right direction” but called for more fiscal and banking integration. It urged the creation of a pan-European deposit insurance guarantee program and a mechanism to resolve failing banks.

“The utmost priority is to resolve the crisis in the euro zone,” the IMF said.
It urged the ECB to provide ample liquidity to support banks under “sufficiently lenient conditions” and nudged the central bank to further ease monetary policy.

It made clear, however, that Europe was not the only risk to the outlook.

The IMF, which trimmed its U.S. forecasts slightly, said concerns were rising over a political battle brewing in Washington over how to avoid painful automatic spending cuts and tax increases at the start of next year.

The United States faces what economists are calling a “fiscal cliff” with the scheduled expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions – enough fiscal tightening to knock the still-weak U.S. economy back into recession.

The nation is also expected to run into the statutory $16.4 trillion cap on its debt before the end of the year, raising the prospect of a default absent congressional action to raise it.

While financial markets believe Congress and the White House will find a way to avoid a fiscal train wreck, the IMF warned of the “potential for a significant adverse market reaction” if that consensus view began to falter.

Concerns about weaker growth have now also moved to emerging economies. The IMF said they are facing “extraordinary uncertainty” as global growth slows and investors shun riskier assets.

Earlier this year, policymakers in emerging economies were worried about large-scale capital inflows and excessive appreciation of their currencies. Those fears have given way to concerns over rapid depreciation and increased volatility in exchange rates. Currencies like the Brazilian real and Indian rupee have depreciated by between 15 and 25 percent in less than a quarter, the IMF noted.

“In emerging economies, policymakers should be ready to cope with trade declines and the high volatility of capital flows,” it said.

The IMF cut its 2012 growth forecast for China 8.0 percent, down from 8.2 percent, and said it now expected growth of 8.5 percent next year, down from 8.8 percent.

It also sharply revised down its growth projections for India to 6.1 percent this year from 6.9 percent, and chopped its 2013 forecast to 6.5 percent from 7.3 percent.

Meanwhile, Africa’s growth is still seen at a robust 5.4 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2013, as the region mostly remains relatively insulated from external financial shocks.

The IMF said growth in the Middle East will be stronger this year as key oil producing countries boost production and Libya’s economy rebounds from conflict in 2011, but it held its forecast for next year at 3.7 percent.

IMF cuts global growth forecast; warns on euro zone

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New home sales surge to 2-year high; prices rising

New home sales, prices rise

New sales of single-family homes soared to their highest point since April 2010, according to the government.

By Tiffany Hsu

New sales of single-family homes soared to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 in May, reaching their highest point since April 2010, according to the government.

Sales were 7.6% above April’s 343,000 rate and 19.8% above the 380,000 level reached in May 2011, according to the Commerce Department. The measure had dipped 1.1% last month from March.

The median sales price of new homes sold in May was $234,000, up nearly 2% from April and a 5.6% boost from last year.

Compared with last year, sales in all regions were up. From April, the Northeast enjoyed 36.7% more sales, but the Midwest slumped 10.6% while the West tumbled 3.5%.

The housing market has been squeezed by more demand than supply. Inventory of new homes for sale rose for the first time in more than a year to 145,000.

The new data add another layer to the ongoing debate over the status of the real estate recovery. Last week, research showed builders breaking ground on fewer homes in May but requesting the most permits in nearly four years. Home-builder confidence is still weak but home prices are turning around. Mortgage rates are at record lows.

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Median home price in Southland climbs

Shortage of homes for sale creates fierce competition

Building permits at 4-year high, single-family housing starts up

 

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Sales of U.S. Existing Homes Rise as Market Stabilizes: Economy

Previously occupied homes represent 80 per cent of the overall home market.

By Shobhana Chandra

Sales of existing U.S. homes rose in April, driven by broad-based gains in demand that signal the market is stabilizing.

Purchases, tabulated when a contract closes, increased 3.4 percent to a 4.62 million annual rate, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. The median price jumped by the most in six years.

Owner-occupied properties are taking over from all-cash deals by investors snapping up distressed houses, the agent’s group said. Employment gains, depressed prices and record-low mortgage rates may bring more dwellings within reach of Americans, eliminating a source of weakness for the world’s largest economy just as risks from Europe’s debt crisis climb.

“We are making incremental progress,” said Millan Mulraine, a senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities Inc. in New York, who correctly forecast the sales pace. “People are becoming more confident about job prospects and about taking on mortgages. This is all positive for the economy.”

Stocks climbed after the report. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.5 percent to 1,322.63 at 12:04 p.m. in New York. The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilder index jumped 2.4 percent.

The April sales pace was in line with the 4.61 million median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates of the 73 economists ranged from 4.47 million to 4.8 million. The prior month’s pace was revised to 4.47 million, from a previously reported 4.48 million. April’s total was just shy of the 4.63 million reached in January that was the highest in almost two years.

Europe and Asia

Elsewhere, U.K. consumer prices climbed 3 percent in April from a year earlier after a 3.5 percent gain in the 12 months ended in March, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The rate is within the government’s boundaries for the first time since February 2010.

Japan’s foreign investments and assets, meantime, grew to the second-highest level on record as companies used the stronger yen to make acquisitions abroad.

The U.S. real estate market’s improvement has been slow to evolve. Existing-home sales climbed to 4.26 million last year from 4.19 million in 2010. Demand peaked at 7.1 million in 2005 during the housing boom. In 2008, sales totaled 4.11 million, the least since 1995. Resales may rise to a 4.6 million to 4.7 million range this year and reach as much as 4.8 million in 2013, the Realtors group projected this month.

“We are breaking out,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a news conference today as the figures were released. “With each passing month, there is job creation. Affordability has been very high. This is a very good combination.”

Median Price

The median price of an existing home climbed 10 percent to $177,400 from $161,100 in April 2011, today’s report showed. It was the biggest year-to-year gain since January 2006 and reflected a seasonal mix in demand toward bigger houses and fewer distressed sales, Yun said.

Families return to the market at this time before the start of a new school year, pushing up demand, he said. Cash transactions, distressed properties and investors accounted for a smaller share of all purchases last month, he said.

Purchases improved in all four regions, led by a 5.1 percent gain in the Northeast.

The number of previously owned homes on the market climbed 9.5 percent to 2.54 million. At the current sales pace, it would take 6.6 months to sell those houses compared with 6.2 months in March. April is usually the peak, or close to the peak, month for inventory for the year, Yun said.
Single-Family Homes

Sales of existing single-family homes increased 3 percent to an annual rate of 4.09 million, while those of multifamily properties, including condominiums and townhouses, rose 6 percent to a 530,000 pace.

The group’s affordability index, which is based on a combination of resale prices, household income and mortgage rates, reached a record high in the first quarter, a report this month showed.

Borrowing costs remain attractive. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to an all-time low of 3.79 percent in the week ended May 17, according to data from Freddie Mac going back to 1971. The average 15-year rate dropped to 3.04 percent, also a record low, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage- finance company said.

Rising employment and incomes may provide more support for housing. The unemployment rate fell in April to a three-year low of 8.1 percent as employers added 115,000 jobs, according to Labor Department figures.

Pulte Orders

PulteGroup Inc., the largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, said orders rose 15 percent to 4,991 homes in its first quarter, and backlogs increased 12 percent to 5,798 homes.

“It was the first quarter in several years that fundamental demand came in stronger than expected,” Richard Dugas, chief executive officer of the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company, said during an April 26 conference call with analysts. “We are pleased with how the year has started off, including a continuation of better sales activity thus far in April.”

Foreclosure filings fell to a five-year low in April as lenders sought to avoid seizing property. The number of default, auction and seizure notices sent to homeowners totaled 188,780 last month, down 14 percent from a year earlier and 5 percent from March, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

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Is the Economy Destroying Fatherhood?

By 

With the tight economy, fathers are found struggling to balance work life with personal life.

Tom Watson knows what it’s like not to have time to spend with his family.

“My wife and my sons would ask me to come and spend time with them and I would often use the line ‘We’ll see’ or ‘Maybe later’ as a way of answering them and then I would head to my office to carry on with my work. I felt that if I could just get ahead on my work, I could get out and spend time with my wife and play with my kids. The problem was that work just kept building and so did the pressure to provide for my family. I would rarely find the time to be there for them.

“Then one day my boys and I were having lunch together and my oldest son Brad asked me if I’d join them outside after lunch for a game of street hockey. I answered him as I had grown accustomed with, ‘We’ll see.’ I finished my lunch and headed to my home office to get back to work when I realized I had left my cell phone on the kitchen counter. I was on my way back to the kitchen to retrieve my phone when I ran upon a conversation between my boys that stopped me dead in my tracks. My middle son, Kelly, was talking to Brad and his words thundered in my ears. ‘Brad! Dad’s not coming out. He always says ‘we’ll see’ and he never comes and plays. He’s too busy and he’s no fun anymore.’

“As I stood there frozen in the hallway, it was like a knife had pierced my heart. There I was, working hard to build my business trying to provide for my family, thinking I was doing the right thing. What I realized in that moment was that I was losing touch with my family! I wasn’t the husband or the father I had been to my family in the past. I had become obsessed with trying to build a company to pay the bills and I was foregoing family time to make that happen. What I realized in that instance was that my sons didn’t care about my work – they just wanted their dad to be there for them like he used to be. They wanted some of my time – they needed my time and so did my wife!

“With the economy as tight as it is, I know that I’m not the only father who has or is struggling to balance work life with personal life. These days, many fathers are either unemployed and working hard to find work or they are working multiple jobs in a global workplace just to make ends meet. Because of this, family time is limited and I often believe men just aren’t in the mood for family because they are despondent or feeling helpless as a provider.”

But, it doesn’t have to be that way, according to Watson, author of the autobiographical Man Shoes: The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband & Father . Watson’s tips for dads in a tough economy include:

With the tight economy, fathers are found struggling to balance work life with personal life.

Share Time – Don’t spend time with your family. Too often I would say, “I have to spend time with my family.” What that term made it sound like to them was that I was begrudgingly stopping work to spend time with them. I realized I needed to reframe what I needed to do and so I began to say instead, “I need to share time with them.” Sharing indicates that everyone is going to get something out of that time. It’s a more positive way of thinking about being with your family. It’s important for your wife and your kids to know that you aren’t paying attention to them out of obligation, but rather, because you need to be with them as much as they need to be with you.

Make a Schedule – Stability and security are important. So set up a time throughout the week that is meant just for your family, and do your best to make that time on your calendar immovable. It has to beHIGH PRIORITY! Give them something they can look forward to on a regular basis and it will show them how important they are to you. If you follow through on this simple action, I have found that it can help you build a trusting relationship with the people who need you most – your family.

A Little Quality Time is Better Than No Time – If you’re working long hours, forced to work multiple jobs or work out of town and commute home on weekends, your family will be much more understanding if you ensure you block out a couple of hours every week for them. As long as you keep to the schedule and don’t let them down, that time will be as valuable as if you spent the entire weekend with them. The key is to BE THERE in body and in mind during those family times. Shut off your cell phone, shut down your computer and realize that whatever is going on in your work world will be alright; it can wait to be dealt with until after you have shared time with you family. The fact is that if your family life is in order, you’re likely going to be in a better place mentally and emotionally to deal with your work life. Success at home generally leads to greater success at work and vice versa.

 

Don’t Plan Big – Husbands/fathers who work a lot sometimes feel guilty about neglecting their families and they cater to that guilt by trying to create big moments. They feel that doing something lavish and expensive will somehow be seen as a payback to their wives or kids for not sharing time with them. There are many pitfalls to this including increased financial strain and the impossibility of sustaining these types of MAKE UP moments long-term. The truth is, for the most part, your spouse and kids don’t really care about the extravagant moments. More often than not, the extravagant moments are fleeting fun. It’s the little moments that happen every week that bond the family together. Things as simple as going for a walk, flying kites at the park, playing games, eating brown bag lunches together and listening to your family members talk to you about their lives are often the things that mean the most to your family. Those are the mortar moments that hold all the major bricks of your family’s life in place. Without those moments, I have found my personal and professional worlds begin to crumble. So make sure you spend time culturing the mortar moments weekly with your wife and your children.

“Life is a choice and the person you choose to be is in your control. No matter the hand you may have been dealt, there are no excuses,” Watson added. “I grew up as an orphan and I acted out a lot, because I lacked the guidance of a family until I was finally taken in by the Watsons,” he said. “And even when I found stability with the Watsons, it took some time for me to settle down. Having shoes on my feet, clothes on my back and food on the table were all good things, but it wasn’t those things that soothed me as a child. It was the time, love and attention I received from Mr. and Mrs. Watson, their family and friends that put me back on course. That’s what I believe every child needs; that’s what I believe our spouses need, and in fact that is what we as men need to be successful. While it may seem to some men that working hard to provide for their families is their primary responsibility, that’s just not so. Children are adaptable and can do without material things more easily than they can do without the love and attention of their parents. If my experience meant anything to me, it showed me that being a dad is far more than just being able to bring home the bacon. It’s not enough to just do for your family – you have to be with them, too.”

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/galtime-com/economy-destroying-fatherhood

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