Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:
Jobless Claims: Apparently, the Department of Labor couldn't wait to tell everyone about its initial jobless claims numbers and released them a day early.
"[T]he news announcing jobless claims data was placed in an automated software system on August 8 in preparation for being posted on the Internet on August 9," CNBC reports.
"A test of the automated system that was conducted on Thursday inadvertently triggered the release of the unemployment claims report," according to a Labor Department press release.
The agency's Office of Inspector General has been notified and the department will be conducting an internal investigation of the testing procedures.
U.S. Drought: The federal government on Friday slashed its expectations for U.S. corn and soybean production for the second month in a row as the worst drought in decades continues punishing key farm states.
The U.S. Agriculture Department cut its projected U.S. corn production to 10.8 billion bushels, down 17 percent from its forecast last month of nearly 13 billion bushels and 13 percent lower than last year. That also would be the lowest production since 2006.
The USDA, in its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, now expects corn growers to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year in what would be the lowest average yield in 17 years.
Soybean production is now forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, a 12 percent decline from last year and well off the 3.05 billion bushels the USDA had expected last month. Expected yields on average of 36.1 bushels per acre would be the lowest since 2003.
Friday's revised outlook comes months after corn farmers expected this to be a record year when they planted, sowing 96.4 million acres - the most since 1937. But the USDA now forecasts the area to be harvested to be 87.4 million acres.
Asia’s Weak Data: A slew of gloomy economic reports from Asian nations show that Europe's debt crisis and the broader global downturn are taking a growing toll on the region even as governments respond with extra spending and lower lending rates.
Hong Kong and Singapore, both Asian financial centers that are highly exposed to global trade, reported weak second quarter GDP Friday, the same day that figures from China showed its trade slowing more sharply than forecast in July.
China, the world's second-biggest economy, said its export growth slumped to 1 percent in July from the previous month's 11.3 percent in a sign of global economic weakness. Growth in imports sank to 4.7 percent from 6.3 percent in June, indicating that domestic demand also remains weak.
Other reports this month from economies including India, South Korea and Taiwan underlined the challenges that the export-reliant region is facing.
Greek Auction: Greece said Friday it will auction €3.125 billion ($3.83 billion) in short-term debt to help pay off a €3.2 billion bond repayment due on Aug.20.
The Public Debt Management Agency said the auction for 13-week T-bills would be held on Aug. 14. The decision allows Greece to avoid having to seek emergency funding on top of the bailout loans it receives from the Europe and International Monetary Fund.
The €3.2 billion bond that matures Aug. 20 is held by the European Central Bank.
Near-bankrupt Greece has been relying on emergency loans since May, 2010 after being frozen out of long-term debt markets, but has maintained a market presence with regular treasury bill auctions of 13- and 26-week money. The Aug. 14 auction would be the largest since the Greece requested emergency assistance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.