Positive Signs For Jobs Market (WSJ)
Fewer people sought new unemployment benefits in the U.S. last week, further signaling that the labor market began to stabilize as 2011 drew to a close. Separately, the private sector added a white-hot 325,000 jobs in December, according to Automatic Data Processing’s monthly hiring report. Initial jobless claims fell by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000 in the week ended Dec. 31, the Labor Department said Thursday. Last week was the eighth time in the past nine that new claims came in below the 400,000 mark, a positive sign as economists generally believe claims must remain consistently below that level to signal a real turnaround.
Hungary Is Open To IMF Loan (WSJ)
Coming under intensifying financial pressure, Hungary signaled Thursday it was open to negotiating a standby loan with the International Monetary Fund without setting any pre-conditions and that it might even back away from a controversial central-bank law that has blocked aid talks. In an attempt to bring the country back from the brink of a currency crisis, Tamas Fellegi, a minister without portfolio and the country’s chief negotiator with the fund, said Hungary was ready to discuss the central-bank law that has become a major stumbling block in talks with the IMF and the European Union. The IMF and the EU say the law threatens the independence of the central bank.
Citi Analyst Lures Hot IPOs (WSJ)
When real-estate website Zillow Inc. was looking for a Wall Street bank to lead its $80 million initial public offering in July, Citigroup Inc. rose to the top of the list. A main attraction: the bank’s top-ranked Internet analyst, Mark Mahaney. Mr. Mahaney “is widely regarded as one of the most influential analysts covering the Internet, and, yes, that was absolutely part” of Zillow’s choice of Citi, said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s chief executive, in an interview. During the sales process for the shares, Mr. Mahaney “probably spent 100 hours on calls with investors,” Mr. Rascoff recalled.
China No Country for Old Men as Government Battles ‘Demographic Tsunami’ (Bloomberg)
Wang Fuchuan lies in bed wearing a quilted black jacket, with two comforters pulled up to his chin to keep out the chilly November air. The heating at Beijing Songtang Caring Hospice is broken and the 90-year-old’s nostrils are stuffed with toilet paper to stop them dripping. Cockroaches scurry across the floor of his room, which has no running water or toilet. His possessions, a few articles of clothing, are in a plastic bag under his bed next to a pink wash bowl with a sliver of soap. His only entertainment is a transistor radio. Wang counts himself lucky…The latest government census shows 178 million Chinese were over 60 in 2009. That figure could reach 437 million — one third of the population — by 2050, the United Nations forecasts. While the elderly were looked after in the past by their children, urbanization and the nation’s one-child policy have eroded the tradition of family care. “It’s a demographic tsunami,” says Joseph J. Christian, a fellow at the Asia Center at the Harvard Kennedy School, and former DLA Piper partner in Hong Kong, who specializes in senior housing issues in China. “The whole multi generational housing model has disappeared.”
Predictions: Greece, Italy Will Default; S&P Will Top 1400 (CNBC)
What kind of surprises are in store for 2012? If Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, is correct: Italy and Greece will default on their debt but will remain in the European Union. The Standard & Poor’s 500 will get above 1400. Unemployment will fall below 8 percent and GDP growth will top 3 percent. Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee for president. He will be defeated by President Obama — providing those predictions on unemployment and GDP come true. These are some of the items on Byron Wien’s annual list of “surprises.” Wien told CNBC Wednesday he remains optimistic about a rising stock market in 2012, an improving U.S. economy and a Europe that manages to come up with a long-lasting plan to solve its financial problems.
Congress Presses Rating Firms (WSJ)
The chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations sent letters to Moody’s Corp. Chief Executive Raymond McDaniel and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services President Douglas Peterson seeking detailed information about the firms’ procedures for determining MF Global’s credit worthiness.
Multifront Attack Awaits Romney (WSJ)
Mr. Paul has the money and the organizational heft to damage Mr. Romney with television ads, and Mr. Santorum has the momentum and novelty to take advantage of any weakening in support for the New Hampshire favorite. But Mr. Gingrich promises to wield the sharpest blade. Battered for weeks by attack ads from a pro-Romney outside political group, the onetime House Speaker arrived in the Granite State full of venom for the Romney campaign. Pledging effectively to team up to undermine Mr. Romney’s credibility, he said on MSNBC that he and Mr. Santorum were “going to be defining Romney out of the mainstream of the Republican Party.”
Hildebrand Battles Reputation Risk as Wife’s Trades Hurt Guardian Status (Bloomberg)
Hildebrand, head of the Swiss National Bank (SNBN), will today break his silence on his wife’s purchase of dollars in August, the SNB said. That trade came three weeks before policy makers announced their biggest franc intervention since the 1970s. While an SNB probe cleared him of wrongdoing, some lawmakers and academics say the 105 year-old institution must do more to move away from a culture of bank secrecy.
Man Stabbed Due to Not Knowing of Beyonce & Jay-Z’s Marriage (Fox)
A fight over a music video led to a Garfield Heights man being stabbed outside a Parma apartment on New Year Eve. Det. Marty Compton of the Parma Police Department tells Fox 8 News that Ronald Deaver, 31, of Parma, was arrested and charged with felonious assault for allegedly stabbing a 48-year-old Garfield Heights man following an argument. Det. Compton says the fight began because the victim did not know that singer Beyonce’s husband is rapper Jay-Z.