The Federal Reserve's interest rate setting arm has wrapped up a two-day meeting in Washington, putting in place another big cut in interest rates as it seeks to boost the lagging economy. Fed policymakers by unanimous vote opted to cut short-term rates by another half a percent, taking a key overnight bank lending rate to one percent, its lowest level since June of 2004. Robert Crouse is an associate professor of Finance at Hofstra University and says the Fed is in a tough spot. "The problem right now is that, first of all, rates are so low that they really can't go much lower. So, cutting it now is probably too little, too late if you ask me, although they had to do it. Otherwise, markets would have been very upset. “In its end-of-meeting statement today, Fed policymakers noted the downside risk to economic growth remained. They said they are expecting inflation to moderate in coming quarters.
US regulators are said to be putting the finishing touches on a new federal plan designed to help avert foreclosures. Media reports citing a source familiar with the discussion said the proposed plan could total up with 50 billion dollars and guarantee some home mortgages. With an announcement expected by as early as tomorrow, they expect it will provide guarantees for as many as three million adverse mortgage holders.
The auto parts company Tenneco says it will eliminate 1, 100 jobs in response to falling demand for vehicles. From Michigan Public Radio, Dustin Dwyer reports.
Tenneco has already eliminated more than 1, 000 jobs worldwide this year because of slow vehicle sales. Now the company says it needs additional cuts because the downturn has grown more severe. Tenneco makes parts for vehicle suspensions and emissions control. The company says it will close four plants in North America that includes plants in Ohio and Indiana, plus two additional plants that have yet to be named. The cuts are expected to save the company 64 million dollars a year. In a statement, Tenneco CEO said he regrets the impact of the restructuring on the company's workers. But he says the company must react to the realities of the market. For NPR News, I'm Dustin Dwyer, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
President Bush sounded confident today in an agreement governing U. S. forces in Iraq will be improved. NPR's Giles Snyder reports.
Negotiators say they have been working on the pact for months. Previously the US said it has made its final offer but the Iraqis now want changes. Mr. Bush says negotiators are analyzing the proposed amendments to what's called "the Status of Forces Agreement". "We obviously want to be, uh, we want to be, uh, helpful and constructive without undermining basic principles. " Mr. Bush was speaking at the White House alongside Massud Barzani, the president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in Northern Iraq. An Iraqi government spokesman says the agreement should include a clear ban on American forces using Iraqi territory to attack Iraq's neighbors, such as the raid along the border with Syria earlier this week. The ban is among four amendments the Iraqis are proposing. Giles Snyder, NPR News, Washington.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 74 points today. This is NPR.
General Motors and the owner of Chrysler, the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management are said to have resolved at least some of the key sticking points in terms of a merger of the two automakers. However any former deal will likely still depend on financing and some kind of government support. That's according to sources said to be close to the discussions. Wire service reports quoting sources said today GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner would head the combined company. GM was reported to be seeking upwards of ten billion dollars in US government aid to support a merger with Chrysler.
One of the century's most influential dancers and choreographers has died. Gerald Arpino along with Robert Joffrey co-founded the Joffrey Ballet in 1956, it is now considered one of the best dance companies in the world. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.
Gerald Arpino helped make American dance innovative and accessible. For example, in the 1990s, he asked rising choreographers to use the Music of Prince. "I thought how do I connect with my young audiences who have never, ever entered the theater to see dance, and I thought, why not attract them.” As well as resurrecting historical ballets and commissioning new work, Gerald Arpino is gently credited with rescuing the Joffrey from financial ruin by moving the company from New York to Chicago. He died there Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. Gerald Arpino was 85 years old. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
An unexpected bump-up last month in orders for longer-lasting manufactured items. The government says durable goods orders which include automobiles and airplanes rose by a larger than unexpected 8/10 of a percent in September. Most analysts expected durable goods orders to fall.