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Key News of the dayThe Dollar Index fell to its lowest level in more than two years as the U.S. eocnomy expanded in the first quarter at a slower rate thanforecast
, encouraging the Federal Reserve to keep borrowi
a report showed Japanese investors sold foreign assets last week. The Dollar Index fell for an eighth day in its longest losing streaksince March 2009 after Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaled yesterday in his first press conference following a policy decision thatthe central bank will likely continue reinvesting maturing debt after its $600 billion bond- buying program expires in June.
The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than forecast in the first quarter as government spending declined by the most since1983.Gross domestic product rose at a 1.8 percent annual rate from January through March after a 3.1 percent pace in the last threemonths of 2010, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. New applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level in three months, a signprogress in the labor market may be stalling. Jobless claims increased by 25,000 to 429,000 in the week ended April 23, the most sincelate January. The government anticipates a drop in unadjusted applications during the Good Friday holiday week, something that didn’thappen this year, a Labor Department spokesman said.
The number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes rose more than forecast in March, a sign the industry thattriggered the recession may begin to stabilize. The index of pending home resales climbed 5.1 percent after a revised 0.7 percentincrease the prior month. The forecast was called for a 1.5 percent rise.
German unemployment fell below 3 million for the first time in almost 19 years in April in adjusted terms, increasing the likelihood thathousehold spending will boost economic growth.The number of people out of work dropped a seasonally adjusted 37,000 to 2.97million,the lowest level since June 1992. The jobless rate was unchanged at 7.1 percent. U.K. consumer confidence slumped to its weakest level since the depth of the recession in February 2009 as the government’s budgetcuts began in earnest, a report by GfK NOP Ltd. showed.The index of sentiment fell to minus 31 in April from minus 28 in March. Thereading is down from minus 16 a year earlier.
The Bank of Japan raised its growth forecast for next year on optimism the economy will bounce back on reconstruction work andrestored power supplies after factory output dropped by a record in March. The world’s third-largest economy will expand 2.9 percent inthe year starting April 2012, the central bank said yesterday. It more than halved its prediction for this fiscal year to 0.6 percent after theMarch 11 earthquake.
New Zealand ’ s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low as the nation recovers from the most devastatingearthquake in 80 years, sending the country ’ s currency lower. “ The outlook for the New Zealand economy remains very uncertain, ”Governor Alan Bollard said in a statement today in Wellington after leaving the official cash rate at 2.5 percent. “Given the outlook forcore inflation and continued economic disruption from the earthquakes, the current level of the cash rate is likely to remain appropriatefor some time.”
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China’s real-estate market is a “particular source of risk” to growth given the importance of property construction to the world’s second-biggest economy, the World Bank said. “Shocks to the property sector that would slow down construction significantly could have a largeimpact on the economy and on bank balance sheets, ” the Washington-based lender said in its China Quarterly Update released inBeijing today. “A property downturn could affect the finances of local governments which do a lot of the infrastructure investment.”
US Equities U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor ’ s 500 Index to the highest level since June 2008, as higher-than-estimated corporate earnings tempered investors’ concern over slowing economic growth. Company news Citrix Systems +9.69% after posted a strong jump in profits and higher-than-expected revenue. Norfolk Southern +7.98% after reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue. Insurers rallied as Allstate, Aflac and Lincoln National posted earnings that topped estimates. Sprint Nextel +6.68% as reported a narrower loss after paring costs to offset contract-customer defections. Constellation Energy Group +5.71% as Exelon offered $7.9 billion for the power producer. Boeing +3.19% as Citigroup raised its share-price estimate. After the closing bell, analysts expect Microsoft to post a quarterly profit of $4.8 billion, up 20% from a year earlier, on sales of $16.2 billion. World markets European stocks rose for a sixth day, extending an eight-week high, as Deutsche Bank earnings beat estimates and the Federal Reserve pledged to keep rates low for an “extended period.” DAX +0.95%, CAC 40 +0.91%, FTSE 100 closed flat. Asian markets ended mixed. Nikkei +1.63%, Shanghai Composite -1.3%, Hang Seng Index -0.37%. Previous
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