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News In Brief

PODCAST: China raises interest rates, job cuts up slightly in June

Katharine Crnko Jul 6, 2011

Here are today’s top headlines from the Marketplace Morning Report and from around the web.

The central bank in China raised interest rates this morning for the third time this year. They’re hoping that’ll push people to save more of their money so that inflation slows down.

We got an early look at the employment picture from the job placement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas. The company says the number of announced job cuts ticked up slightly last month, but over the last six months, the number of planned layoffs reached the lowest level since 2000.

Applications for home mortgages rose last week, but refinancing activity plunged as interest rates jumped, an industry group said Wednesday.

The services sector, which employs nearly 90 percent of the country’s workforce, expanded for a 19th consecutive month in June. But growth slowed from May, a sign that the economy remains sluggish.

In Europe, the debt crisis in Portugal is dragging stocks down all over. And the Portuguese market fell more than 2.5 percent after Moody’s downgraded that country’s government debt to junk status.

In her first press conference, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said the global economy was rebounding from the financial crisis but recovery remains unbalanced.

There could be a kink in the $8.5 billion Bank of America settlement over sour mortgage-backed securities announced last week. A group of bond investors says their views weren’t represented, and the settlement talks were held in secret.

The number of people tuning in to fireworks on TV is higher. NBC saw a 50 percent increase in viewership for the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular on Monday night.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studied a group of nearly 200 business students and how ready each was to lie or cheat to gain a competitive advantage. The study found men with wider faces were three times more likely to lie, and nine times more likely to cheat to get ahead. The researchers say the wider a man’s face, the more powerful he feels he is. And with that power, they say, comes aggressive, self-interested behavior. But the study also stresses that men with wide faces can also channel their unethical tendencies to be more constructive and successful, without having to lie or cheat.

A reminder to always check the bill. A New Zealand couple got trapped in a hotel room during the earthquake there in February. And though they did manage to escape the wreckage after breaking down doors and crawling onto a roof, they did not escape the charges on their hotel bill, including about $15 a day for parking — even though they weren’t able to retrieve their car from the crumbled parking garage for two months. Good news though: after this story made the New Zealand press, the hotel decided to waive the charges.

You can read the rest of today’s stories from the Marketplace Morning Report here.

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