G20 Finance Leaders Don’t Dwell on Germany’s Trade Surpluses

WASHINGTON — Group of 20 finance officials didn’t dwell on Germany’s large current-account surpluses at their meeting in the U.S. capitol on Thursday, German Finance-Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Friday.

Germany’s persistent trade surpluses have become a hot topic in top economic circles after they were criticized by the new Trump administration.

But Mr. Schaeuble said at a news conference that the topic didn’t come up at a gathering of G20 finance officials, although he said it was discussed in bilateral meetings.

Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann warned at the same press event against any measures that could harm global trade.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Rate Declines to 4.8% in March

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 21, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry released its employment situation report for March 2017.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was down two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8 percent in March. This was the fourth consecutive decline, resulting in the lowest rate since February 2008. The commonwealth’s rate remained above that of the United States (4.5%), which also decreased two-tenths of a percentage point from February. Over the year, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate declined by six-tenths of a percentage point.

Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force was up 7,000 over the month to 6,442,000. Resident employment increased by 17,000 while the unemployment count declined by 9,000. March was the seventh consecutive month that posted both an increase in employment and a decrease in unemployment.

Pennsylvania’s nonfarm jobs count was down 16,100 to 5,934,200 in March. Six of the eleven supersectors declined from February, with the largest drop in leisure & hospitality (-8,200). The largest volume gain was in professional & business services (+3,600).

Total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 1.0 percent (+60,600) from last March while nationally jobs were up 1.5 percent. Eight supersectors added jobs over the year. The largest increase in the past 12 months was in education & health services (+40,800), while the largest decline was in manufacturing (-6,800).

Court Rulings Deal Setback to Execution Plan in Arkansas

Associated Press
Arkansas suffered two more setbacks in its unprecedented bid to carry out eight executions this month with the state’s highest court granting a reprieve to an inmate scheduled to die Thursday and a county court ruling the state can’t use one of its lethal injection drugs in any executions.

While both of Wednesday’s rulings could be overturned, Arkansas now faces an uphill battle to execute any inmates before the end of April, when another of its drugs expires.

The state originally set eight executions to occur over an 11-day period in April, which would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. But Arkansas has faced a wave of legal challenges, and the latest ruling from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray over the drug vecuronium bromide upends the entire schedule.

Judge Gray sided with McKesson Corp., which had argued that it sold Arkansas the drug for medical use — not executions — and that it would suffer harm financially and to its reputation if the executions were carried out.

Continue reading “Court Rulings Deal Setback to Execution Plan in Arkansas”

Number of people collecting unemployment checks hits 17-year low, jobless claims show

Initial jobless claims total 244,000 in mid-April

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits remains at the lowest level in decades amid a prolonged surge in job creation since 2011.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits remains at the lowest level in decades amid a prolonged surge in job creation since 2011.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of out-of-work people collecting unemployment checks fell to a 17-year low in April, underscoring the strongest U.S. labor market in years.

So-called continuing jobless claims fell by 49,000 to 1.98 million, marking just the second time they’ve fallen below 2 million during the current eight-year-old economic expansion. Continuing claims also dipped below the 2 million mark in March.

The last time state unemployment offices sent out fewer checks to jobless Americans was in April 2000, the government reported Thursday.

Initial jobless claims, meanwhile, rose by 10,000 to a still-low 244,000 in the seven days stretching from April 9 to April 15. . The number of new applicants for unemployment benefits has registered less than 300,000 for 111 straight weeks, the longest streak since the early 1970s.

There is a “steady downtrend in place in the pace of layoffs,” noted Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities.

The more stable monthly average of jobless claims was a touch lower at 243,000. They fell by 4,250 from the prior week.

In recent trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.80% rose more than 180 points to 20,400. The Dow is up 3.3% so far in 2017.

Across China: Industry City Sets Example of Action in Pollution Control

LANZHOU, China, April 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — It was with some reluctance that Ma Xiaobing upgraded his kebab stall by investing in a smoke control device, but he is doing much better business now.

“In the past, we roasted four legs of lamb each day. Currently, we need about 20 a day,” said Ma from Lanzhou, Gansu Province. “There are more diners and we are busier than ever.”

Lanzhou, a city at the Yellow River valley in the country’s arid northwest, was once among China’s most polluted cities. Pollution was so bad that people even joked that the town did not show up on satellite images.

Strong pollution control measures have lowered PM10 and PM2.5 densities in the city to less than 75 percent of 2013 levels. Last year, the annual number of blue sky days increased by 50 to reach 243.

The provincial capital has become “a model of air quality improvement,” according to a central inspection team. Annual coal consumption in the city has been reduced from 10 million tonnes in 2012 to around six million tonnes last year. Continue reading “Across China: Industry City Sets Example of Action in Pollution Control”

The Forbes 2017 Retirement Guide

In this age of second and third career acts, 401(k)s instead of pensions and increasing longevity, decisions about when, where and how to retire are highly personal. With that in mind, our annual Retire Well guide offers blueprints to help you build your own successful plan.

We start with a model portfolio that will get you thinking about whether your nest egg is sufficiently diversified. Next, we’ve got ten techniques for structuring assets so that you report less income to the IRS and escape tax and Medicare penalties that hit the well-off.

Could a move be part of your plan? We name the 25 best places for living an active retirement without owning a car and profile some of the most appealing neighborhoods in those cities. Or, if taxes drive your location decisions, we’ve got details on the ten best–and ten worst–states for high-income folks, plus a rundown of states that offer special income tax breaks to seniors and advice on how to find your own personal retirement tax haven.

Continue reading “The Forbes 2017 Retirement Guide”