The 10 Big Under-The-Radar Stories You Probably Missed This Week

East Boston, Neptune Road, 1970s, newspaper

Photo: Michael Philip Manheim / EPA (via Flickr)

Don’t blame yourself if you missed a few key things this week. Even with one eye on CNBC and the other on your Bloomberg terminal, it’s likely you’d only remember the details emerging from Occupy Wall Street.Occupy dominated headlines after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was forcing protestors out of Zuccotti Park after dusk. Elsewhere, the U.S. remained firmly focused on Penn State and the scandal unfolding over Jerry Sandusky.

In Europe, news circled around rising yields of Italian, Spanish, French, Austrian, and Belgian sovereign debt. Italy swore in Berlusconi’s successor and investors wondered how he could right the country.

Japan's economy grew for the first time in four quarters

After a year of tremendous global macro-economic headwinds, spillover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and Thai flooding that gravely disrupted its supply chain, Japan posted its first economic growth in a year. The country's economy expanded by 1.5% for annualized growth of 6.0%. Personal consumption rose 1% from the prior quarter and companies like Toyota put workers back to work to make up for idled plant time earlier this year. However, the government expects growth to slow heading into the final quarter of the year as spending declines.

Boeing receives two massive orders, toppling records

aeroplane manufacturer Boeing received a number of orders this week, but two eclipsed anything it had recorded before. First, Emirates signed a purchasing agreement for 50 777 totaling $18 billion at list price. Then, days later, while President Barack Obama traveled through the Pacific Rim, Obama announced that Boeing had also secured an order for 201 Boeing 737MAX and 29 Next Generation 737ER jets for $21.7 billion. The announcement also included the option for Lion Share to purchase $14 billion more.

Warren Buffet announces massive stake in computer services firm IBM

While on CNBC for a three-hour interview, Warren Buffett revealed that Berkshire Hathaway had accumulated 5.5% of IBM shares. The move, valued at $10.7 billion, was his first big foray into tech stocks. The oracle from Omaha also announced stakes in CVS and Visa. But he didn't give up that information up easily. Instead, he led the anchors of Squawk Box on with hints that referenced Harold, or HAL, of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Spaniards expected to vote in opposition party to office

Following the country's worst recession in 60 years, Spaniards are expected to vote in People's Party candidate Mariano Rajoy during general elections this Sunday. Unemployment stands at 23% in the nation and austerity measures have so-far been unable to tackle the crisis crippling Spain. Rajoy backs Spain's membership in the EU and is expected to push for further austerity measures if he wins.

Four major banks announce layoffs

The financial services industry may bleed more than 200,000 jobs this year, above levels last seen in 2009. This week, UBS, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, and Citibank added to the cuts. Layoffs at UBS will hit its investment banking division to the tune of 2,000, which is still trying to recover after it announced a rogue trader cost the bank billions. Citi is cutting 3,000, while BNP and SocGen are expecting 1,400 and 500, respectively.

U.K. unemployment hits a 15 year high

Unemployment in the United Kingdom hit 8.3% in the three months ending in September, the highest rate since 1996. At the same time the Bank of England cut its growth expectations for the country to 1%. The U.K. has been implementing austerity measures over the past few years, cutting £83 billion of expenses and 490,000 government jobs. Those policies have had a sobering effect on the workforce; the number of people unemployed for at least two years swelled to 422,000 in Britain.

Eurozone GDP actually expanded during the quarter

Amid all the news austerity measures and government failings in Europe, the 17-nation Eurozone actually managed to eek out GDP growth during the quarter. Economies expanded at a pace of just 0.2%, in line with analyst expectations. France and Germany led the increases, up 0.4% and 0.5% for the quarter, respectively. However, economists still expect the region to fall into recession over the coming year.

U.S. retail sales beat expectations, grow 0.5%

American retail sales continued to grow during October, up 0.5%, and above analyst consensus for an expansion of 0.3%. However, the figure becomes all the rosier when excluding auto and gas sales. Without those two contributions, retail sales climbed 0.7%, against expectations of 0.2% growth. Headline sales were up 1.1% for the month, indicating consumer spending remained resilient and healthy.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's errs in two reports

In a series of major blunders, McGraw Hill unit S&P made mistakes in reports on both France and Brazil. First, the ratings firm issued an announcement that it was downgrading French sovereign debt before immediately back tracking. Then on Thursday, in a headline, S&P said it was upgrading Brazilian sovereign debt to BBB-. However, the company already rated Brazil BBB-, and actually meant to upgrade it to BBB.

Goldman Sachs names its smallest managing director class since 2008

In a memo leaked to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs announced the names of 261 employees who would gain the title of managing director on January 1, 2012. The class is the smallest since the financial crisis began in 2008 and 19% smaller than the number of people named last year. Goldman expects to cut upwards of 1,000 positions as it restructures itself. For the full list, click here >

Everything you need to know about Europe

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