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By Tammy Bruce
Topic - Tom Porcelli
Wall Street stocks soared Thursday on signs of a possible breakthrough in the standoff in Washington, with House Republicans proposing a short-term increase in the national debt limit that would prevent a possible default on U.S. Treasury securities for another six weeks.
The United States looks increasingly likely to lose its gold-plated AAA credit rating in the next few months amid warnings by Wall Street rating agencies that last week's $650 billion "fiscal cliff" deal did not go far enough to reduce $1 trillion deficits and stabilize the debt.
Jobless rates are down both because some people are finding work and because some people have stopped trying, economists say. The big question: Who are all these people who have given up, driving the share of able-bodied Americans in the labor force to a 30-year low of 63.5 percent last month?
U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs in August, a tepid figure that points to the economy's persistent weakness and slowing prospects for the unemployed.
Reading the economy these days is like taking a Rorschach test: Optimists see signs of progress in each economic report, while pessimists see the end of the expansion and many others host middling views.
U.S. corporations are brimming with cash and reporting record levels of profits, but many workers haven't received solid raises in years. Some have had to take on the workloads of laid-off colleagues, but have not received additional pay. The jobs that are open often provide smaller paychecks than the ones Americans lost during the 2007-09 recession.
Gasoline prices appear to have peaked more than a month earlier than usual this year at less than $4 a gallon, reflecting reduced tensions with Iran and declining demand for fuel in the U.S. and China, oil analysts say.
The nation's unemployment rate plummeted dramatically to 8.6 percent last month, after hovering around 9 percent for much of the year, as the pace of job growth quickened, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.
The Christmas shopping season started with a bang and the consumer mood is brightening at a critical time during the month that brings a quarter of the year's retail sales in the U.S.
Still, the debt drama isn't over, and another shoe will drop on Friday — when, he said, a report from the University of Michigan likely will show a steep fall in consumer confidence caused by the debt showdown and government shutdown that started last week.
That loss of confidence poses a broad threat to economic growth and can be seen in diminished sales at U.S. department stores in the past week, he said, though some of the loss may be reversed if Thursday's debt deal produces a lasting truce in Washington.