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Morning Market Roundup: China's Stimulus Isn't Working, Drug Spending Down

Business

Here's what's important in the business world this morning:

China: From shopkeepers to shipbuilders, some areas are feeling more pain from China's deepest slowdown since the 2008 global crisis than still-robust headline growth of about 8 percent might suggest. Higher spending by state industry and government-directed investment is pumping up the world's second-largest economy, but that is masking the fact that the private sector is cutting jobs and scrambling to prop up plunging sales.

Data due out Friday are expected to show growth in the three months ending in June fell as low as 7.3 percent, down from the previous quarter's nearly three-year low of 8.1 percent. That is in line with this year's official 7.5 percent target. But revenues for companies in construction, shipbuilding and export manufacturing are down by up to half compared with a year ago.

The slowdown is a setback for economies around the world that were looking to China to drive demand for exports and support global growth.

Foreclosures: Banks are increasingly placing homes with unpaid mortgages on a countdown that could deliver a swell of new foreclosed properties onto the market by early next year, potentially weighing further on home values.

June provided the latest evidence of this trend, as the number of U.S. homes entering the foreclosure process for the first time increased on an annual basis for the second month in a row, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

California in particular saw a big spike in foreclosure starts, or homes placed on the foreclosure path for the first time. They increased 18 percent versus June last year, the firm said.

The increase in foreclosure starts comes as banks make up for time lost last year as the mortgage-lending industry grappled with allegations that it had processed foreclosures without verifying documents.

The nation's biggest mortgage lenders reached a $25 billion settlement in February with state officials. And that's cleared the way for banks to address their backlog of unpaid mortgages.

Drug Spending: Growth in global spending on medications will slow markedly over the next four years due to a slew of new low-cost generic drugs coming to pharmacies in the U.S. and other developed countries, along with slower increases in what those countries spend on brand-name drugs, according to a new forecast.

During a same period, from 2012 through 2016, the pharmaceutical industry will sharply boost its sales in emerging markets including China, India and Russia, according to the report from data firm IMS Health, which collects and analyzes data on pharmaceutical sales around the world.

The company's latest forecast on global medicine sales and trends predicts total spending will rise from about $956 billion in 2011 to just under $1.2 trillion in 2016, based on reported wholesale drug prices. However, IMS estimates the undisclosed rebates and discounts drug companies give to commercial and government prescription plans, a strategy to win more of their business, reduce the actual cost by about 15 percent. That would put total pharmaceutical spending at about $1 trillion in 2016.

U.S. Stocks: U.S. stocks are falling as fear simmers about Europe's debt crisis and the pace of global growth.

Spain's borrowing costs rose Thursday, signaling investors' concern that it may default. Spain's neighbors are rescuing its banks, but the government itself was not bailed out and bond investors are not satisfied. Stocks in Spain plunged.

Greece said unemployment there continues to rise and hit 22.5 percent in April. Traders also are concerned that Chinese growth is slowing, depriving the world of a crucial economic engine.

Stocks fell despite a U.S. government report new claims for unemployment benefits fell steeply last week.

The Dow is down 104 points at 12,501 in the first fifteen minutes of trading. The S&P 500 is down 14 at 1,328. The Nasdaq composite is down 38 at 2,850.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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