Thursday Afternoon Cheat Sheet: 3 Stories That Moved Markets

Here’s three stories that helped shape the markets on Thursday:unemployment-office

1) With the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rising more than expected last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly job report showed continued volatility in the labor market. For the the seven-day period ended January 5, jobless claims increased by 4,000 applications to 371,000. Economists polled by Bloomberg had anticipated claims to fall to 365,000 from the prior week’s revised total of 367,000… (Read more.)

2) More than five years have passed since the housing market collapsed, and only now are regulators addressing the manner in which financial institutions issue mortgages. As part of the reforms mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, a newly created consumer watchdog — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — announced new regulations on Thursday that would require lenders to verify a borrower’s ability to repay loans… (Read more.)

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Clarity on mortgage rules could prove to be a long-term boon for banks mired in Dodd-Frank uncertainty, but in the short term, a seal of approval from Warren Buffett could help continue a 2012 rally in financial stocks. Buffett argues that The banks will not get this country in trouble, I guarantee it,” because of a combination of restructuring, behavioral reform, and regulation.

3) Everybody is watching China for signs of strength this year, and so far the world’s second-largest economy is not disappointing. Reports indicate that exports climbed 14.1 percent in December when compared to last year, way ahead of expectations for about 4 percent growth. Imports also climbed 6 percent, suggesting strength in the domestic economy. This is a welcome change from the past seven quarters, which all reflected a slowdown in exports. Major manufacturers in particular have a lot to gain from China’s economic resurgence.

At the close: DJIA: +0.60%, S&P 500: +0.69%, NASDAQ: +0.51%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSEARCA:USO) climbed 0.84 percent to $93.88 per barrel. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) climbed 1.07 percent to $1,673.20 per ounce, while the yield for the U.S. 10-year T-bill climbed 0.037 points to 1.894 percent.

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