Stocks continue to have a rough month. And the July 24 high of 1,991 continues to drift away.
First, the scoreboard:
Dow: 16,367.6, -75.6, (-0.4%)
S&P 500: 1,909.5, -10.6, (-0.5%)
Nasdaq: 4,334.9, -20.0, (-0.4%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
Russia retaliated against western economic sanctions with sanctions of its own. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a ban on food imports from the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Australia, and Norway. This includes imports of beef, pork, fruit, vegetable, dairy, cheese, and fish. This is somewhat problematic for Russia, as it is the fifth-largest importer of food in the world. “There is nothing good in sanctions, and it wasn’t an easy decision to take, but we had to do it,” Medvedev said.
U.S. companies probably won’t get off unscathed. Russia is the U.S. second-biggest importer of chicken. “As its domestic poultry industry has expanded, Russia has in recent years become less important as an export market,” said the National Chicken Council. “Russia currently accounts for only about 7% of total U.S. poultry export volume. In the mid-1990s, exports to Russia were as much as 40% of that total.” Chicken producer Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride fell by 2% and 3% respectively.
Initial weekly jobless claims tumbled to 289,000 from 303,000 a week ago. This was lower than the 304,000 expected by economists. This week’s report brings the four-week moving average down to 293,500, the lowest level since February 2006. The four-week average for continuing claims fell 17k, to 2.519 million, the lowest level since July 2007.
Consumer credit balances expanded by $17.25 billion in June. Economists estimated balances would increase by $18.65 billion. Non-revolving balance, which includes auto loans and student loans, increased by $16.3 billion. This included a $5.4 billion increase in Federal government lending, which is mostly educational loans.
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