A lengthy dispute that paralyzed shipping at U.S. West Coast ports for months was resolved by a tentative five-year contract between dock workers and ship owners. Analysts warned that clearing the backlog that piled up during negotiations would take months.
In a favorable sign for U.S. wages and consumer spending ahead of the holidays, the nation's number of job openings reached a five-year high in September. "Things are genuinely getting better. I don't think we're at the point where people will quit without having something in hand, but hopefully we're moving in that direction," said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York.
The winding down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is needed so that taxpayers are not on the hook in case of another boom and bust cycle, says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The GOP's plan would leave a few agencies in place for first-time and lower-income buyers but would eliminate the government-sponsored enterprises; like the Senate proposal, it calls for a five-year plan for dissolution.
New jobless claims have fallen to their lowest rate in almost five and a half years, according to Labor Department figures. Employers are relying on existing staff to meet increases in demand, analysts say, so future gains will likely be contingent on an increase in hiring. "There is only so much companies can cut layoffs before they have to start thinking about adding to headcounts," said Guy Berger, an economist at RBS Securities.
First-time jobless claims in the U.S. declined to 339,000 last week, close to a five-year low, the Labor Department says. Economists had expected a total of 351,000. The four-week rolling average, seen as a better indicator of labor-market conditions, reached 357,500, compared with the previous week's 362,000.