Nation roundup for August 2


Job growth eases but tops 200K

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sixth straight month of solid 200,000-plus job growth in July reinforced growing evidence that the U.S. economy is accelerating after five years of sluggish expansion.

Employers added 209,000 jobs last month. Though that was fewer than in the previous three months, the economy has now produced an average 244,000 jobs a month since February — the best six-month string in eight years.

At the same time, most economists don’t think the pace of job growth is enough to cause the Federal Reserve to speed up its timetable for raising interest rates. Most still think the Fed will start raising rates to ward off inflation around mid-2015.

The Labor Department’s jobs report Friday pointed to an economy that has bounced back with force after a grim start to the year and is expected to sustain its strength into 2015. Economists generally expect it to grow at a 3 percent annual rate in the second half of this year after expanding 4 percent in the second quarter. Consumer spending is rising, manufacturing is expanding rapidly and auto sales are up.

“There is no doubt that the economy and the labor market have been strengthening,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University’s Smith School of Business. “People are rejoining the labor force. All these factors point to moderate, but sustained economic growth in 2014.”

S&P 500’s worst week in 2 years

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell for a second day Friday, adding to the massive sell-off the day before and giving the market its worst week in two years.

Investors found little reason to move money into stocks, faced with the growing geopolitical concerns in Israel and Ukraine, as well as banking problems in Europe.

For the last two years investors have generally wanted to step in to buy any major fall in the stock market, traders said, causing any sell-off to be met the following day with modest buying. Traders said that the selling Friday, on top of what happened the day before, is not a good sign.

“The follow-through from yesterday’s (market drop) is very telling,” said Jonathan Corpina, a trader on the New York Stock Exchange with Meridian Equity Partners. “The end of this week could not come at a better time as the weekend might provide some stability.”

On Friday the Standard &Poor’s 500 index lost 5.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,925.15. The index fell 2.7 percent this week, its worst weekly performance since June 2012.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 69.93 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,493.37. That’s on top of the 317-point drop the index had on Thursday. The Nasdaq composite fell 17.13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,352.64.

Poll: Public ready to end two wars

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three in four Americans think history will judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as failures, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows that about the same percentage think it was right to pull forces from the two countries.

Americans surveyed in last month’s poll were not optimistic about the chance that a stable democratic government will be established in either country. Seventy-eight percent said it was either not too likely or not at all likely in Afghanistan and 80 percent said the same about Iraq.

Roughly three out of four Americans polled think that in hindsight, each war will be deemed as an outright “complete failure” or “more of a failure than success.”

A majority of those polled, or 70 percent, said the United States was right to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2011 and pull most U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by December. The two conflicts have consumed the nation for more than a decade and claimed the lives of 6,800 U.S. troops.

 

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