Company Highlights: Powell on economy, jobless claims

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Powell: Higher rates should not cause a deep recession in the United States

WASHINGTON — The last time the Federal Reserve faced inflation as high as it is now, in the early 1980s, it drove interest rates up to double-digit levels — and, that doing so, caused a deep recession and a sharp rise in unemployment. On Thursday, Chairman Jerome Powell suggested that this time the Fed wouldn’t have to go that far. “We think we can avoid the very high social costs that Paul Volcker and the Fed had to put in place to bring down inflation,” Powell said in an interview with the Cato Institute, referring to the Fed chairman at the start. 1980s that sent short-term borrowing rates to about 19% to curb extremely high inflation.

Stocks recover from a stumble on Wall Street and end higher

NEW YORK — The stock market recovered from a midday slump and finished higher, remaining on course for its first weekly gain in four weeks. The S&P 500 rose 0.7% on Thursday. The Nasdaq Composite and the Dow Jones Industrial Average also ended higher after their own bumpy runs. Interest rate policies were in focus as the European Central Bank made its largest rate hike on record, in line with measures taken by the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to fight inflation . Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed the Fed’s commitment to keep rates high “until the job is done” to get inflation under control.

Yellen pushes Biden’s economic plans to Michigan battleground

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made the case for Democratic economic policies during a visit to Ford’s electric vehicle assembly plant in Rouge in Michigan’s election-year battleground. After a tour of the production line, Yellen promoted the recent legislative successes of the Biden administration. Yellen says she’s more optimistic about the outlook for the economy than she has been “in quite a while” and says she knows “we’re headed in the right direction.” Yellen’s visit to Detroit was part of a month-long tour as well as a larger White House campaign to highlight new laws designed to help the economy, boost computer chip manufacturing, reduce prescription drug prices, develop clean energy and revamp the country’s infrastructure.

Fewer Americans apply for unemployment assistance last week

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level since May despite repeated attempts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy and bring inflation under control. Unemployment assistance claims for the week ending Sept. 3 fell by 6,000 to 222,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The first requests generally reflect layoffs. The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the weekly highs and lows, fell by 7,500 to 233,000. Hiring in the United States in 2022 was remarkably strong even as the country faces a rise interest rates and weak economic growth.

Long-term mortgage rates at their highest since 2008

WASHINGTON — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped again this week to their highest level in nearly 14 years, certain to keep even more potential buyers out of a steepening housing market. has cooled considerably since the Federal Reserve began raising its benchmark borrowing rate. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported on Thursday that the 30-year rate jumped to 5.89%, its highest level since November 2008, just after the housing market crash triggered the Great Recession. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, popular among those looking to refinance their homes, topped 5% for the first time since 2009.

UK to cap energy prices and end fracking ban to ease crisis

LONDON — British Prime Minister Liz Truss has said her Conservative government will cap domestic energy prices for homes and businesses to ease the cost of living crisis. She also says she will approve more oil drilling in the North Sea and lift a ban on fracking to boost the UK’s domestic energy supply. Truss told lawmakers on Thursday that the two-year “energy price guarantee” means average household bills will not exceed £2,500 a year for heating and electricity. Bills were expected to reach £3,500 a year from October, triple the cost of a year ago. Critics say this means taxpayers will have to foot the bill, instead of energy companies making windfall profits.

As housing market cools, homebuyers regain leverage

LOS ANGELES — Homebuyers are regaining influence at the bargaining table as the housing market slows, according to new data from Redfin. On average, US homes purchased during a four-week period in August sold for less than the asking price. That hasn’t happened since at least March 2021, according to the real estate brokerage. Years of soaring home prices and significantly higher mortgage rates remain hurdles for many would-be buyers, but with more homes selling for less than their asking price, the housing market is at least becoming less skewed in favor sellers.

Cheaper electric vehicles are coming despite high battery costs

WARREN, Mich. — Automakers are rolling out more affordable electric vehicles that should broaden their appeal to a larger group of buyers. This is despite rising battery costs. The latest electric vehicle came Thursday from General Motors, a small Chevrolet Equinox SUV. It has a starting price of around $30,000 and a range per charge of 250 miles or 400 kilometers. You can get a range of 300 miles or 500 kilometers if you pay more. GM won’t release exact pricing for the Equinox EV until it goes on sale around this time next year. But the SUV is at the bottom of the price list of electric vehicles sold in the United States by Edmunds.com. The average cost of an EV is now around $65,000.

European Central Bank makes biggest ever interest rate hike

FRANKFURT, Germany — The European Central Bank has made its biggest ever interest rate hike to fight record inflation that is squeezing consumers and pushing the 19 countries that use the euro into recession. The bank’s 25-member board on Thursday raised its key benchmarks by an unprecedented three-quarters of a percentage point. The ECB has joined the US Federal Reserve and other central banks in the global rush of rapid rate hikes. Russia’s war in Ukraine fueled inflation in Europe, with Russia sharply cutting supplies of cheap natural gas used to heat homes, generate electricity and run factories. This has driven gasoline prices up 10 times or more.

The S&P 500 added 26.31 points, or 0.7%, to 4,006.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 193.24 points, or 0.6%, to 31,774.52. The Nasdaq edged down 70.23 points, or 0.6%, to 11,862.13. The Russell 2000 Small Business Index rose 14.90 points, or 0.8%, to 1,846.91.

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