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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
May 17, 2012

Manufacturing in Philadelphia Area Shrinks for First Time in Eight Months

By Lorraine Woellert - May 17, 2012 10:38 AM ET

Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region unexpectedly shrank in May for the first time in eight months, reflecting a drop in orders and employment.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index fell to minus 5.8 this month, the lowest reading since September, from 8.5 in the previous month. Economists forecast the gauge would rise to 10, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Readings less than zero signal contraction in the area covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

Slower economies in Europe and China may restrain exports and limit orders to U.S. factories, which have been a mainstay of the almost three-year-old expansion. At the same time, increased demand for automobiles, which sold in the first quarter at the fastest pace in four years, is helping underpin manufacturing.

“We’re in a choppy and uneven recovery,” said Sean Incremona, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, who had the lowest forecast in the Bloomberg survey. “This is a disappointment. It only goes to show us that the recovery as a whole isn’t gathering any momentum.”



May 16, 2012

Fed: Fiscal Standoff Poses 'Sizable Risk' To US Recovery

Source: The Hill

Federal Reserve officials see the political standoff over the nation's fiscal course as a "sizable risk" to the economic recovery.

When Fed members last met to set the policy of the nation's central bank, officials noted that the uncertain trajectory of the nation's finances could be keeping businesses on the sideline. As both parties spar over major policy changes set to take effect at the beginning of next year, central bank officials warned that if that "sharp fiscal tightening" were to take effect, it would weigh down the economy.

The minutes of the April meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), released Wednesday, reveal that Fed officials still believe the economy is expanding moderately as labor market conditions gradually improve. Following that meeting, the Fed opted to hold steady on its existing policies of near-zero interest rates held through the end of 2014.

The minutes mark the latest example of the central bank fretting about what impact Congress and the White House might have on an economic recovery that still appears unstable. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeatedly called on Congress to adjust its pending fiscal policy, noting that the "fiscal cliff" set to take effect at the beginning of the year would be so extreme that it could throw the recovery off-kilter. He has warned that if policymakers do not replace the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes currently set to take effect with more gradual fiscal tightening, the Fed lacks the tools to make up for the resulting economic contraction.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/economy/227797-fed-fiscal-standoff-poses-sizable-risk-to-us-recovery

May 16, 2012

US Helping Get Arms To Syria Rebels: Report

WASHINGTON: The United States is helping bring more and better weapons to Syria's rebels, including anti-tank weaponry, for their fight against President Bashar al-Assad regime, The Washington Post said today.

President Barack Obama's administration insisted it was not directly supplying the weapons or providing funding, with Gulf states paying for the new arms, the Post said, citing US and foreign officials.

But Washington has stepped up links with the rebels and regional militaries allied with them, playing a role in the rebel's foreign support network, according to the report.
"We are increasing our nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond in order to have the biggest impact on what we are collectively doing," a senior state department official told the Post.

If true, the US administration's move to increase contact with the rebels and boost information-sharing with Gulf states who back them would mark a shift in policy for the Obama administration, which has so far resisted overt support for the armed groups battling Assad forces.



May 16, 2012

Michigan Unemployment Rate Improves To 8.3% In April, As Workforce Grows By 3,000

Michigan’s unemployment rate kept moving in the right direction in April, dropping two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.3%.

Data released bwey the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget showed that the state’s workforce rose slightly by a net increase of 3,000 workers.

Meanwhile, a monthly survey of employers showed that the number of jobs at major employers rose slightly in April by 5,000 to just under 4 million. April job additions were led by an increase of 6,000 jobs in professional and business services.

“The first four months of 2012 have been positive for Michigan’s labor market,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Early 2012 has been marked by monthly employment gains and stable labor force levels.”



May 16, 2012

Oil Falls To 6-Month Low Near $92 On US Supplies Surge

Associated Press

(AP) - Oil prices dropped to fresh six-month lows near $92 a barrel Wednesday after a report showed U.S. crude supplies surged more than expected last week.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for June delivery was down $1.31 to $92.67 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, it fell as low as $91.81, the lowest since November. On Tuesday, the contract fell 80 cents to settle at $93.98 in New York.

In London, Brent crude for June delivery was down 77 cents at $111.47 per barrel at ICE Futures exchange.

The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 6.6 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 1.5 million barrels.

Inventories of gasoline fell 2.6 million barrels last week while distillates tumbled 1.6 million barrels, the API said.



May 16, 2012

The Palestinian Nakba: The Resolve of Memory

by Ramzy Baroud / May 16th, 2012

Many Palestinians remember and reference al-Nakba, also known as the Catastrophe, on May 15 every year. The event marks the expulsion of nearly a million Palestinians, while their villages were destroyed. The destruction of Palestine in 1947-48 ushered in the birth of Israel. Older generations relay the harsh and oppressive memory of their collective experience to younger Palestinians, many of whom live their own Nakbas today.

In covering al-Nakba, sympathetic Arab and other media play sad music and show black and white footage of displaced, frightened refugees. They rightly emphasize the concept of Sumud, steadfastness, as they show Palestinian of all ages holding unto the rusty keys of their homes and insisting on their right of return. Other, less sympathetic media discuss al-Nakba, if at all, as a side note – a nuisance in the Israeli narrative of a nation’s supposedly miraculous birth and its progression to an idyllic oasis of democracy. What such reductionist representations often fail to show is that while al-Nakba started, it never truly finished.

Those who underwent the pain, harm and loss of al-Nakba are yet to receive the justice that was promised to them by the international community. UN Resolution 194 states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date” (Article 11). Those who wrought this injustice are also yet to achieve their ultimate objectives in Palestine. After all, Israel doesn’t have defined boundaries by accident.

David Ben Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, once prophesized that “the old (refugees) will die and the young will forget.” He spoke with the harshness of a conqueror. Ben Gurion carried out his war plans to the furthest extent possible. Every region in Palestine that was meant to be taken was captured, its people were expelled or massacred in their homes and villages. Ben Guiron ‘cleansed’ the land, but he failed to cleanse Israel’s past. Memory persists.



May 16, 2012

Obama, Boehner Clash At White House Over Debt-Ceiling Hike

Source: The Hill

By Russell Berman - 05/16/12 02:06 PM ET

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) clashed during a White House meeting on Wednesday, with the Speaker telling the president that he was “not going to allow a debt-ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt,” Boehner’s office said.

The president convened the meeting of the bipartisan congressional leadership to discuss his “to-do list” for Congress, but an aide to the Speaker said the bulk of the meeting was spent on other issues, including a pile-up of expiring tax provisions and the next increase in the federal debt limit.

According to a readout of the meeting from the Speaker’s office, Boehner asked Obama if he was proposing that Congress increase the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts. The president replied, “Yes,” the Boehner aide said. At that point, Boehner told Obama, “As long as I’m around here, I’m not going to allow a debt-ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt.”

Shortly after the meeting, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the president warned the leadership that he would not allow a repeat of last August’s debt-ceiling “debacle,” which led to a downgrade in the U.S. credit rating.

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/227793-obama-boehner-clash-at-white-house-over-debt-ceiling-hike

May 16, 2012

US Starts War Games In Jordan; 12,000 Troops Take Part

AMMAN The United States and its allies have started in Jordan what was described as the largest military exercises in the Middle East in 10 years, focusing on “irregular warfare,” top officers said on Tuesday.

“On Monday we began to apply the skills that we have developed over the last weeks in an irregular warfare scenario ... They will last for approximately the coming two weeks,” Major General Ken Tovo, head of the US Special Operations Forces, said in Amman.

Eager Lion 2012 “is the largest exercise held in the region in the past ten years,” he said at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in north Amman.

More than 12,000 soldiers are taking part in the war games, representing 19 countries, including Bahr-ain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.



May 16, 2012

Top Army General Objects To GOP Plan To Slow Troop Reductions

Source: The Hill

By Jeremy Herb - 05/16/12 11:36 AM ET

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Wednesday he’s opposed to a plan from House Republicans to slow the reduction of U.S. forces over the next five years.

The House Armed Services Committee included language in the Defense authorization bill to limit troop reductions to 15,000 per year for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps through 2017, a slower pace than the military had planned for.

The Army proposed cutting its forces by 72,000 and the Marines 20,000 in the 2013 budget, in part as a result of the drawdowns in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as budget constraints.

Odierno said at a Pentagon press briefing Wednesday that the House proposal is too restrictive for the Army.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/army/227739-top-army-general-objects-to-house-slowing-troop-reductions

May 15, 2012

J.C. Penney Reports Loss And Plummeting Sales In 1Q

(05-15) 13:22 PDT NEW YORK, (AP) --

J.C. Penney is reporting a bigger-than-expected loss and plummeting profits in the first quarter as many of its customers are rejecting a new bold pricing strategy that puts an end to rampant discounting in favor of everyday low prices.

The department store chain says it lost $163 million, or 75 cents per share in the quarter ended April 28. That compares with a profit of $64 million, or 28 cents per share in the year-ago period. Revenue dropped 20 percent to $3.15 billion for the quarter.



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