Nation roundup for November 9
Fiscal cliff: Tax rates a big hurdle
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans’ hard line against higher tax rates for upper-income earners leaves re-elected President Barack Obama with a tough, core decision: Does he pick a fight and risk falling off a “fiscal cliff” or does he rush to compromise and risk alienating liberal Democrats?
Or is there another way that will allow both sides to claim victory?
Obama has been silent since his victory speech early Wednesday morning, but Capitol Hill Republicans have filled the vacuum with vows to stand resolutely against any effort by the president to fulfill a campaign promise to raise the top two income tax rates to Clinton-era levels.
“A ‘balanced’ approach isn’t balanced if it means higher tax rates on the small businesses that are key to getting our economy moving again,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on Wednesday. “Raising tax rates is unacceptable,” he declared Thursday on ABC. “Frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate.”
A lot is at stake. A new Congressional Budget Office report on Thursday predicted that the economy would fall into recession if there is a protracted impasse in Washington and the government falls off the fiscal cliff for the entire year.
Though most Capitol-watchers think that long deadlock is unlikely, the analysts say such a scenario would cause a spike in the jobless rate to 9.1 percent by next fall.
Stocks slide amid fears of gridlock
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks slid on Wall Street Thursday, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average logged its biggest one-day drop of the year, as investors fretted about the potential for gridlock in Washington.
The Dow closed down 121.41 points to 12,811.32, bringing its two-day loss to 434 points. The Standard and Poor’s 500 index fell 17.02 points to 1,377.51 and the Nasdaq composite slipped 41.71 to 2,895.58.
The Dow plunged 313 points Wednesday, its fifth worst one-day drop following a U.S. presidential election. The biggest, in 2008, came in the midst of the financial crisis on the day after President Barack Obama won his first term.
The two-day slump came in the wake of Obama’s re-election to a second term.
as investors turned their focus back to Europe’s problems and the so-called fiscal cliff, a package of tax increases and government spending cuts in the U.S. that will occur unless Congress acts by Jan. 1. Investors see it as a serious threat to the economic recovery.
“The thinking before the election was that it would remove some of the uncertainty, but it seems to have done the opposite,” said Tyler Vernon, chief investment officer at Biltmore Capital Advisors in Princeton, N.J.
Stocks are still up on the year, but well below the peak they reached in September. That was when the Federal Reserve announced a third round of its bond-buying program, which is intended to hold down borrowing costs and encourage lending.
The S&P 500 is 6 percent below its high close of the year, 1,465, which it reached on Sept. 14. That was its highest level in nearly five years. It’s still up 10 percent for the year.
Investors may be tempted to sell appreciated stock before a possible increase in the capital gains tax at the end of the year, Vernon said. Tax cuts enacted by President George W. Bush expire at the end of this year and the U.S. government wants to cut a $1 trillion budget deficit.
“The mood of the market has certainly switched,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade, as investors monitor developments on the fiscal cliff and wait for more clues about Obama’s agenda.
Investors were encouraged by two reports on the U.S. economy that came out before the market opened. The Dow climbed as much as 48 points in the morning but started to sink after the first hour of trading.
The Dow fell steadily throughout the rest of the day, and more steeply in the last hour of trading. The Dow gave up 73 points in the last 40 minutes, accounting for more than half the day’s loss.
The Labor Department reported that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell 8,000 last week to 355,000, a possible sign that the job market is healing. Officials cautioned that the figures were distorted by Superstorm Sandy.
A separate report showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to its lowest level in almost two years as exports rose to a record high.
There was also encouraging news from Europe, where leaders shocked markets a day earlier with a dire forecast for economic growth next year.
European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said financial market confidence “has visibly improved” as the 17-country group that uses the euro struggles with its debt crisis. But he said the outlook for the economy remains “weak.” Draghi spoke after the bank’s governing council left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.75 percent.
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Wednesday slashed its outlook for growth for this year and 2013. The report helped set off a sharp decline in stocks in the U.S and Europe.
Spain’s government said that it had met its financing needs for the year after raising the equivalent of $6.07 billion in a series of bond auctions on Thursday. Spain became the focal point of the European debt crisis earlier this year amid concern that it would struggle to refinance its debt at affordable rates.
Among stocks making big moves:
— Energy drink maker Monster Beverage sank 57 cents to $44.40 after the company said its revenue growth slowed in the third quarter.
— Kayak Software surged in after-hours trading, gaining $8.14 to $39.18, after the travel website agreed to be bought by Priceline.com for $40 a share.
— Burger chain Wendy’s rose 13 cents to $4.39 after the company said that a key sales figure rose. Revenue at restaurants open at least 15 months rose 2.7 percent, the sixth straight quarter of growth.
— CBS rose 36 cents to $34.36 after the company said that earnings rose 16 percent as falling ad revenue was offset by higher fees from pay TV distributors.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.