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Number of posts: 29,876

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Consumer Confidence Jumped In February On Job Market Improvement

By Jim Puzzanghera
March 1, 2013, 7:51 a.m.
WASHINGTON -- Consumer confidence surged in February as the improving job market offset concerns about higher taxes and looming federal spending cuts, according to a leading private barometer.

The monthly consumer sentiment index from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan rose 5.1% last month from January. The new reading of 77.6 also was up 3.1% from a year earlier.

“Consumer confidence continued to improve in February due to expected gains in employment," said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist. "These expected job gains have partially offset concerns about higher payroll taxes and the impending reduction in federal spending."

Although the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% in January, the economy added 157,000 new jobs and figures for the last three months of 2012 were revised sharply upward. Weekly jobless claims have been trending down.



Syria Rebels Seek Premier-in-Waiting as U.S. Steps Up Help

By Donna Abu-Nasr - Mar 1, 2013
Syrian opposition groups are debating who should head a provisional government as they prepare for an Istanbul meeting to announce their first formal alternative to President Bashar al-Assad’s administration.

Abdelbaset Sieda, a former head of the Syrian National Council, the biggest faction in the coalition that’s meeting in Istanbul, said his group will submit three candidates at the meeting. The prime minister will be chosen “preferably by consensus” rather than through a vote, he said.

It’s not clear when the meeting, originally scheduled for March 2, will take place. The coalition said on its Facebook page yesterday that it has been delayed for “logistical reasons.”

The announcement of a transitional government comes as the U.S. and other international backers of the opposition in Syria push for an end to a conflict that began almost two years ago and has left more than 70,000 people dead, according to United Nations estimates.



Kerry To Chide Turkish PM Over Zionism Comments

ANKARA | Fri Mar 1, 2013 10:34am EST
(Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to take Turkey's prime minister to task for describing Zionism as a crime against humanity, an attack on a key U.S. ally that has overshadowed their talks on the crisis in neighboring Syria.

Kerry, on his first trip to a Muslim nation since taking office, is meeting Turkish leaders for talks meant to focus on Syria's civil war and bilateral interests from energy security to counter-terrorism.

But comment by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at a U.N. meeting in Vienna this week, condemned by his Israeli counterpart, the White House and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has clouded his trip.

"This was particularly offensive, frankly, to call Zionism a crime against humanity ... It does have a corrosive effect (on relations)," a senior U.S. official told reporters as Kerry flew to Ankara.



Manufacturing in U.S. Grew in February by Most Since June 2011

Source: Bloomberg

By Alex Kowalski - Mar 1, 2013
Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at a faster pace than forecast in February, reaching the highest level since June 2011 as factories boosted production.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index advanced to 54.2, from 53.1 in January, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today. The figures exceeded the most optimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey in which the median projection was 52.5. A reading greater than 50 signals expansion.

Orders expanded the most in almost two years, the report showed, as manufacturers such as Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) emerged from an industry setback in the second half of 2012. The production gains complement a rebound in the housing market and help underpin the economy amid budget disputes in Washington.

“Things are starting to improve for manufacturing, and the improvements are starting to build on each other,” Michael Montgomery, a U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts, said before the report. “Inventory growth has turned the corner. Orders have picked up finally.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-01/ism-index-of-u-s-manufacturing-increased-to-54-2-in-february.html

Druckenmiller Sees Storm Worse Than '08 as Seniors Bankrupt Kids

Stan Druckenmiller, one of the best-performing hedge fund managers of the past three decades, has a warning for the youth of America: Don’t let your grandparents steal your money.

Druckenmiller, 59, said the mushrooming costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with unfunded liabilities as high as $211 trillion, will bankrupt the nation’s youth and pose a much greater danger than the country’s $16 trillion of debt currently being debated in Congress.

“While everybody is focusing on the here and now, there’s a much, much bigger storm that’s about to hit,” Druckenmiller said in an hour-long interview with Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s Market Makers. “I am not against seniors. What I am against is current seniors stealing from future seniors.”

Druckenmiller said unsustainable spending will eventually result in a crisis worse than the financial meltdown of 2008, when $29 trillion was erased from global equity markets. What’s particularly troubling, he said, is that government expenditures related to programs for the elderly rocketed in the past two decades, even before the first baby boomers, those born in 1946, started turning 65.



Backers Of Convicted Israeli Spy To Protest Ahead Of Obama’s Visit, Jerusalem Council To Award Medal

Original title: Backers of alleged Israeli spy to protest ahead of Obama’s visit.
There is nothing 'alleged' about Pollard, he was tried, convicted and sentenced...

Israeli supporters of Jonathan Pollard, the American jailed as an Israeli spy, plan protests calling for his release ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit next month an organiser said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem city council moved to award a medal to Pollard, who is serving a life sentence.

“We shall be staging protest vigils against Pollard’s imprisonment during the coming days, and holding press conferences and other events,” Effie Lahav, head of a committee demanding Pollard’s release, told Israeli public radio.

Israeli TV has said the White House fears mass protests during Obama’s March 20-22 visit, but Lahav did not specify if his group would be holding demonstrations then.


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