Mid-day Update

PODCAST: Mixed jobs data, How to look busy at work in August

Daryl Paranada Aug 3, 2011

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

Don’t look now, but people are tossing around the “R” word again. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is quoted as saying there’s a one-in-three chance of a recession. With that kind of talk, you can bet Wall Street is going to have a keen eye on the jobs numbers coming out this week.

Payroll company ADP said today private employers added 114,000 jobs — beating forecasts by 20,000 jobs. But despite the note of optimism we got some other economic data this morning that was much more worrisome.

We just got a jobs preview from the job placement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas. And it’s not good. The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose to a 16-month high in July. And this time, sectors which had been seeing fairly few layoffs unexpectedly lost jobs.

Businesses cut back on orders for airplanes, autos and heavy machinery in June, lowering demand for factory goods for the second time in three months.

The U.S. service firms, which employ nearly 90 percent of the country’s work force, experienced their weakest growth in 17 months in July.

Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week as interest rates fell, an industry group said Wednesday.

The computer security firm McAfee claims that more than 70 organizations, including the U.S. government and the International Olympic committee, have had confidential data stolen.

It’s not helping that Italy keeps sliding deeper into debt. Its borrowing rates hit a new euro-era high again today.

Clorox reported this morning its profit fell in the last three months. International sales were flat.

Time Warner said today its second quarter profit rose by 14 percent, thanks to more ad sales on its TV channel business.

For the first time in a couple of years, airlines are reporting a quarterly drop in profits. The International Air Transport Association says profits improved in Europe — thanks to less volcanic ash this year. But higher jet fuel prices and slumping sales hurt other regions.

There’s nothing wrong with the government of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi that a little public relations spin won’t take care of. That seems to be the view of the embattled dictator, anyway. After almost six months of civil war, there’s word Qaddafi is trying a new tactic. An official from the Libyan Ministry of Information has sent out a pitch letter to PR firms in New York and Los Angeles, looking to find a spin doctor to promote Qaddafi’s “moral, political and legal” claims to power. One New York PR exec tells the website Business Insider that he thinks the chances any firm will respond positively to this request are highly doubtful.

In New York City, a peacock bolted from its Central Park Aviary yesterday only to turn up minutes later perched five stories up on a 5th Avenue building ledge. Zoo officials say the hundred or so people below snapping pictures and tweeting about it probably ruffled the bird’s feathers even more. Where the bird will go next is anybody’s guess. But scientists say birds of a certain feather, fly together, so someone might wanna keep an eye out at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Home of NBC. You know, it’s the Peacock Network.

August is one of those months when there’s just not a lot going on at the office. A lot of people — especially outside the U.S. — take the month off for their yearly vacations. But for the people left behind, when there’s nothing to do. Website Gawker features some advice on how to look busy: Send well-timed emails. At the beginning and end of the day, so the boss knows you’re working hard all day. Walk around the office — co-workers will think you’re on a mission. And type a lot. Even if it’s an email to your mom or an update on Facebook.

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