Mid-day Update

PODCAST: Markets continue to tank, getting charged for debit purchases

Mary Dooe Aug 18, 2011

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

Markets. [WTF]( lolcat/nimdabew/LOL Cats/funny-pictures-scared-cat-bed-girl-doll.jpg)?

The number of people seeking first time unemployment benefits rose slightly last week — by 9,000 claims.

We also got word from the government that the Consumer Price Index — a gauge of consumer inflation — was up half a percent in July.

There’s news this morning that one bank is testing a monthly debit card fee of $3 in some markets.

U.S. existing-home sales unexpectedly dropped in July as cancellations of pending contracts continued to depress buying activity. Factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region plummeted in August, falling to the lowest level since March 2009, a survey showed Thursday.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to its lowest level on records dating to 1971.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports U.S. banking regulators are pushing to make sure some of Europe’s biggest banks are keeping enough money in the vaults of their U.S. divisions.

There was word in the New York Times today that the Justice Department is investigating whether Standard and Poor’s improperly rated mortgage investments leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Lest you think that’s payback for S&P’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, the government says the investigation started before the downgrade.

Retailer Sears Holdings reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday as weak sales and bigger discounts ate into margins.

China’s vice president expressed confidence in the fundamentals of the U.S. economy and prospects for the future, a senior Obama administration official accompanying U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on a visit to China said on Thursday.

The Transportation Security Administration is trying something new at Boston’s Logan Airport. Screeners are training to engage with passengers more to detect suspicious behavior. They’ll learn to make small talk with travelers to break the ice and foster some trust. You know, a little conversation about the weather or that new Katy Perry song. Or a couple of benign questions about where they’re traveling to and why. Or how come that bag has more than 3 ounces of liquid.

On to a new invention that is going to be really useful. A company called Milleniata has developed a DVD that can last for a thousand years. So in the year 3000, you won’t have to stream “Kung Fu Panda 2” directly into your eyeballs, you can watch it on DVD. In other words, maybe Blockbuster does have a future after all….

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