Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:
EU: The sovereign debt problem in Europe gets more complex by the hour. The European Central Bank said it may intervene to buy paper issued by nations that are economically weak. This should drive down yields and give countries like Italy more time to show their seriousness about austerity. Angela Merkel of Germany said she wants aid of any kind, particularly if it involves German money, to come at a steep price to those that need it. Membership in the eurozone should involve a stronger union, and one in which nations should be held accountable for their budgets, she argued. Merkel also expressed pessimism about the region’s future, at least short term.
“Resolving the sovereign debt crisis is a process and this process will take years,” she said. She also said the eurozone should expect no help from the European Central Bank.
Chrysler: November car sales numbers were telling in several ways. SUV sales picked up. Perhaps Americans believe the drop in gas prices will be long-lived. If not, drivers with the large trucks face several years of expensive motoring.
Japanese car companies continued to lose ground, with the exception of Nissan. Toyota and Honda still have production disruption problems due to the March earthquake. November U.S. sales also showed the continued rising success of American car companies. All three posted substantial gains. The most impressive of them was Chrysler, which said units sold increased 45 percent over November of last year. The company sold more than 100,000 cars and light trucks last month. It may be a compelling victory for a company that went through Chapter 11 just three years ago. It is also a victory for Fiat, which now owns Chrysler.
Retail: Retail results for November and third-quarter earnings from some store chains were another indication that several companies are now permanently out of the race for profits and better revenue. Barnes & Noble posted poor quarterly results. Its store sales were weak and its investment in e-commerce expensive. The book company has battled Amazon.com for years, and it is more clear with each quarter that the fight is one it cannot win. Retailers such as Talbots, Gap and Kohl’s continued to get weaker. Their competitors have overwhelmed them in price, store configuration and location, and e-commerce efforts. Those are not advantages that can be overcome easily.
Google Chrome: Google’s Chrome browser passed Firefox as the second most used product in the business. It sits behind only Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The gains could be critical to Google’s advances into businesses like social networking. The Google browser bar offers rapid access to its products, such as social network launch Google+. Microsoft loses chances to promote its products in the browser space as its share shrinks. The Chrome advance is another example of how Google has pushed into businesses beyond search. The most prominent of these is the Android mobile OS. Chrome, Google Maps, YouTube and Google’s image search product are all part of the largest search company’s success in diversification.
Unemployment: The Labor Department said Friday morning that the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 8.6 percent last month, down from 9 percent in October. The last time unemployment was that low was March 2009.
"Employers added 120,000 jobs last month," reports the Associated Press. "And the previous two months were revised up to show that 72,000 more jobs added — the fourth straight month the government revised prior months higher."
But here's the catch: one of the reasons the number fell to 8.6 percent is because about 315,000 people decided to just stop looking for work and therefore the Labor Department doesn't count them as "unemployed."
So the 8.6 percent figure isn't necessarily a good thing then, is it?
(24/7 Wall St./The Blaze)