Americans saw their wealth increase at the start of this year as the economic recovery boosted stock portfolios. The Federal Reserve reported today that household net worth rose by 2.1 percent in the first three months of this year to $54.6 trillion. It marked the fourth consecutive quarter that Americans’ wealth grew. Stock portfolios were the biggest force lifting net worth in the first quarter. However, since then Wall Street has slumped.
Jobless claims, exports fall in sluggish recovery: The picture of a steady but still sluggish recovery emerged from reports today that showed fewer people are claiming unemployment aid while U.S. exports are slowing. The reports echo Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s suggestion this week that the rebound will remain intact despite high unemployment, a fragile housing market and Europe’s debt crisis. But it will take time to create enough jobs to bring down the 9.7 percent unemployment rate.
Monthlong Boeing strike at California C-17 plant ends: Boeing Co. workers who assemble C-17 planes returned to work today after a monthlong strike that shut down production of the military cargo jets in a stalemate over benefits. Union members voted 823-544 Wednesday in favor of the nearly five-year contract that was reached after federal mediators stepped into the standoff last week. The new deal extends Boeing’s last proposal by one year and reduces employee health care contributions from the previous offer.
Stocks surge on US jobs data, China trade growth: Stocks surged today after reports on the U.S. job market and Chinese exports lifted anxiety about the global economic recovery. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 175 points in afternoon trading. The Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed about 1.8 percent, while the technology-dominated Nasdaq composite index rose about 1.5 percent.
SEC puts in new ‘circuit breaker’ rules: Federal regulators today put in place new rules aimed at preventing a repeat of last month’s harrowing “flash crash” in the stock market. Members of the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the rules, which call for U.S. stock exchanges to briefly halt trading of some stocks that make big swings. The exchanges will start putting the trading breaks into effect as early as Friday for six months.