Category Archives: Uncategorized

Apartment vacancy rate falls to decade low

The Apartment vacancy rate in the first quarter fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, and rents posted their biggest jump in four years, as Americans eschewed home ownership and renting retained its popularity, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc.

The national vacancy rate fell 0.30 percentage points in the first quarter to 4.9 percent, the lowest level since the fourth quarter 2001, according to preliminary results Reis released Wednesday.

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Jobs Act could remove investor protections, SEC chair Mary Schapiro warns

A bill the House passed last week to make it easier for companies to raise money could also make it easier for companies to cheat investors, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission says.

It’s called the Jobs Act — an acronym for “Jumpstart Our Business Startups” — and lawmakers of both parties have promoted it as a way to boost a weak economy. But regulators and investor advocates have argued that it could expose investors to fraud.

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Consumer spending up despite higher gas prices

Americans might complain about higher gasoline prices, but new government data show that hasn’t stopped them from driving to the mall.

Retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in February, the biggest monthly increase since last fall, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Consumers went shopping for new cars, clothes, electronics and sporting goods despite spending 3.3 percent more at gas stations. The results boosted estimates of how fast the economy is growing, particularly on the heels of data showing a strengthening job market.

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Oil rises above $107 amid improving US economy

Oil prices rose above $107 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as traders bet an improving U.S. economy will boost demand at a time when the ability to increase crude production is limited.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 68 cents to $107.02 at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.06 to settle at $106.34 per barrel in New York on Monday. Brent crude was up 19 cents at $125.53 per barrel in London.

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Household debt rises for first time in 3-1/2 years

Household debt rose for the first time in three and a half years during the fourth quarter, suggesting Americans were more comfortable borrowing money and potentially laying the groundwork for higher consumer spending.

The data released on Thursday by the Federal Reserve also showed household wealth increasing by $1.2 trillion, which could also support spending.

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Have We Turned the Confidence Corner? Millionaires Think So

A number of recent reports seem to suggest that various segments of the corporate and consumer markets—perhaps even Ben Bernanke—are feeling more confident about the direction of the economy, a suggestion punctuated Wednesday by the release of Spectrem Group’s Millionaire Investor Confidence Index (SMICI), which rose to its highest level in nine months.

The SMICI, which measures monthly the confidence level of financial decision-makers in households that have $500,000 or more in investable assets, rose 6 points in February to a positive 4, which Spectrem said was its highest level since May 2011. Spectrem has been conducting research on attitudes and trends among the high-net-worth consumer for 20 years; it began publishing its Millionaire Investor Confidence Index in 2004.

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Shareholders Asking Companies to Reveal Political Outlays

With nine months remaining before the U.S. presidential elections, some investors have expressed themselves politically via an earlier set of votes: Nearly one-third of shareholder resolutions filed for the upcoming annual-meeting season ask companies to reveal more about their campaign spending and lobbying, according to a report released on February 28.

If they don’t persuade companies to meet their requests, those shareholders still have a prominent regulator on their side. Last Friday SEC commissioner Luis Aguilar said the Securities and Exchange Commission should require companies to disclose their political outlays. “It is the commission’s responsibility to . . . ensure that investors are not left in the dark when their money is used without their knowledge or consent,” he said during an event held by the Practising Law Institute.

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Workers return to lower wages

U.S. economists say the millions of people looking for work are collectively eroding the compensation offered by employers.

“If your employer knows you don’t have outside options, it reduces your bargaining power,” said economist Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

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Economists see more reasons for optimism this year, but maintaining slow growth expectations

Economists are increasingly confident that some pillars of the economy will improve this year, but they still remain cautious in their expectations on the overall pace of economic growth.

The National Association for Business Economics said Monday that forecasters have raised their expectations for employment, new home construction and business spending this year. But they held on to their average prediction that the nation’s gross domestic product, or GDP, will grow at a rate of 2.4 percent. That’s a slight improvement from 2011, when economists believe the economy grew 1.6 percent. Final economic growth numbers for 2011 are due out Wednesday.

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Nation might reach $16.4 trillion debt limit close to Election Day

The $16.4 trillion debt ceiling could be reached just weeks after Election Day, according to a new report.

The analysis raises the possibility that lawmakers might have to raise the nation’s borrowing limit before the election, a scenario they took pains to avoid in the debt deal passed in August.

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