Financial 411: Weekly Business Roundup

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On this last day of trading for the month of April, the dollar fell, gold rose and the Dow Jones ended on a good note.

Comments from the Federal Reserve this week indicate that interest rates will stay low for some time to come. That's pushing down the value of the dollar. On Friday, the dollar hit its lowest level since 2008, before bouncing back a bit. A weak dollar is a mixed bag economically: good for producers of products sold overseas because they're more affordable, and bad for consumers trying buying imported goods, because they cost more.

As the dollar falls, the price of gold is soaring to record highs. It topped more than $1,550 an ounce on Friday. Speculators have been driving up the price. They see precious metals like gold and silver as a hedge against inflation.

After Caterpillar and other industrial companies reported strong earnings for the first three months of the year, the Dow finished up 47 points, closing at 12,811. It has increased four percent for the month. The S&P 500 gained three points, to end at 1,364. The NASDAQ finished at 2,874, up a point.

Reviewing this Week's Business and Economic News

Despite improving job numbers, the construction business is pretty much moribund in New York. And this week, conflict broke into the open between construction unions and builders, with the Regional Plan Association circulating a report saying that the expiration of 30 union contracts in June is a chance to reform the construction industry.

Greg David, director of the Business & Economics Reporting Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, talks about what builders want, and what unions want. He also talks about rent regulations up for renewal in Albany later this spring. This week, Governor Cuomo said he will take a "very aggressive position to extend and expand" rent regulations, which cover nearly a million apartments in the city.