Playlist: China and credit ratings
Posted by Katharine Crnko
For Marketplace Morning Report, Thursday July 14, 2011
Here are today's top headlines from the Marketplace Morning Report and from around the web.
405,000 Americans filed for first time jobless claims last week. The Labor Department said that's down by 22,000 from the week before. Encouraging news that layoffs are slowing. But the nation's unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent.
The Italian Senate has just approved a package of budget cuts worth $57 billion over four years. Italy fast-tracked the plan this week to calm investors concerns about Italian debt -- which amounts to 120 percent of the country's GDP.
Retails sales notched up slightly in June, thanks to an uptick in auto sales. The Commerce Department also said today companies paid less for raw materials last month -- the first drop in a year.
The rating agency Moody's says it will review the U.S. government's credit score -- our bond rating -- which is currently at the highest possible level: triple-A. The review, Moody's says, is because of growing uncertainty about whether the U.S. will raise the debt ceiling, and avoid a default. And today, the biggest foreign holder of U.S. bonds -- China -- said the U.S. needs to adopt responsible policies to guarantee investor interests.
The online music service Spotify launches in the United States today. It's a hit in Europe, with 10 million registered users. But some music companies are concerned they'll lose even more sales as listeners stream songs online.
Reports out of Switzerland say Swiss bank UBS is going to cut 5,000 jobs in an effort to save more than $1 billion. And there are also reports Credit Suisse could lay off 1,000.
ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, says it will split itself into two separate publicly traded companies and its CEO and Chairman Jim Mulva plans to retire once the transaction is complete.
We got a first look at the health of the financial sector this morning with a quarterly earnings report from JPMorgan Chase. The bank says profits were up 13 percent last quarter but not because of strength on the consumer side.
The bookstore chain Borders is on the brink of closing all of its remaining stores after a private equity takeover offer fell apart yesterday. Borders filed for bankruptcy in February and has been looking for a buyer ever since.
To Texas, where residents have just discovered that a New York City restaurant has named a sandwich for them. It's called Deep in the Heart Attack of Texas. It's chicken fried steak covered with gravy and macaroni and cheese, smashed in between two buttery pieces of Texas Toast. Sound pretty good, huh? Well, not to all Texans including one reader of the Houston Press. He says the sandwich is far too small to be associated with Texas. But, he continues: they do love their dinky portions up there.
It's matrimony in a machine. An interactive device company has come up with The AutoWed. As in wedding. An 8-foot high, pink, vending-like apparatus that'll marry you for just under $2. It's not binding, of course. Just ceremonial. The machine, which you can only find in Britain, features buttons for I DO or ESCAPE. It spits out a couple of plastic rings to mark the occasion. And if the arrangement doesn't work out AutoWed also allows you to print out a 10 percent off coupon for an AutoDivorce.
You can read the rest of today's stories from the Marketplace Morning Report here.
Here are the songs we played: