Economy Grows, Albeit Slowly
The economy grew at a disappointing 1.8 percent annual rate in the first three months of 2011. That's down from 3.1 percent in the final months of last year. The drop is being blamed on harsh winter weather, the ongoing slump in the housing market and higher oil and prices. A sharp drop in state and local government spending also pinched economic growth.
And if that isn't enough of a bummer, more people filed for unemployment claims last week. It's the second rise in three weeks and a discouraging sign that employers may not be hiring as much as hoped.
The news for businesses was a little better. Time Warner Cable, Viacom and Colgate-Palmolive said their earnings were up in the first three months of this year. Pepsi and Kodak were down.
Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded company, made nearly $11 billion. That's its second best profit since 2008, which was the last time oil prices soared.
Profits like this are likely to put Exxon smack dab in the center of the national debate over rising gasoline prices. On a company blog, Exxon said it has little control over the price of oil, now near $133 a barrel. That's little comfort to drivers, who are paying on average $4.11 a gallon in NYC.
Traders liked what they saw Thursday. The Dow added 72 points, ending at 12,763. The Nasdaq rose three points, to 2,873. The S&P 500 closed at 1,360, after gaining five points.
It was named for an ancient city in China that now lies in ruins. But the Xanadu entertainment complex that's in New Jersey's Meadowlands isn't fully built yet, and it's already being called a boondoggle. Details emerged on Thursday on a state rescue plan for Xanadu.
Xanadu was conceived as a public-private partnership during the McGreevey administration. A 2.2-million square foot space with shopping, a ferris wheel and a ski slope. But the project ran into trouble even before the financial crisis. WNYC's Bob Hennelly explains why construction was halted, and gives the details of the new rescue plan in the works.