Weekly economic review includes layoffs, home sales decline

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 58 views 

The City Wire economic review for the week of Nov. 10 – Nov. 14:

• Fort Smith-based Riverside Furniture announced 250 layoffs at its operations in Fort Smith and Russellville. Most of the layoffs will happen in Fort Smith as Riverside consolidates its Fort Smith locations.

• The number of homes sold in Sebastian and Crawford county in September fell 7.3 percent and 28.1 percent, respectively, compared to September 2007. Link here for a more complete report.

• Shares of Fort Smith-based Baldor Electric Co. (NYSE: BEZ) took it on the chin this week, tumbling from a Monday opening price of $17.04 to a Friday close of $14.41, a 15.4 percent drop. The shares are well off their 52 week high of $39.90. Lowered export expectations for U.S. manufactured products likely dampened the share price this week.

• The Dow Jones Industrial Average also had a tough week, opening Monday at 9,090.29 and closing Friday at 8,497.31, down 6.5 percent.

• The Commerce Department reported Friday that retail sales slumped 2.8 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted $363.7 billion, the largest decline since the department’s current methodology was adopted in 1992.

• Sales weren’t down at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The Bentonville-based retailer on Thursday posted third-quarter sales of $97.63 billion, up 7.5 percent over the $90.82 billion in the 2007 period. Net income in the quarter was $3.13 billion, up almost 10 percent over the same quarter in 2007. For the first nine months of 2008, Wal-Mart sales totaled $293.24 billion, up 9.4 percent over the same period in 2007. Net income in the nine months was $9.6 billion, up an impressive 11.2 percent.

• The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose by an unexpectedly steep 32,000 last week to 516,000, the highest since the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Labor Department said Thursday.

• U.S. exports fell at the fastest pace in seven years as the credit crunch slowed economies around the world.

• The national October unemployment rate was 6.5 percent, up from 4.9 percent in January. Link here for an “Economy at a glance” report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• On Friday, light, sweet crude for December delivery fell $1.20 to settle at $57.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices have fallen about 60 percent during the last four months after reaching $147.27 in July.

• Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, estimated Friday that the daily U.S. gasoline bill for the rest of November will be about $750 million per day less that what it was in early July when the cost was $1.55 billion per day.