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Planned Layoffs Fell to 20 Month Low
Planned Layoffs Fell to 20 Month Low

For the third straight month in August, planned layoffs fell to a 20-month low, even with the uncertain outlook that looms ahead, according to data from consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. During August, U.S. based employers said they planned to cut 32,239 jobs, down 37% from a year ago and down 12.5% from July. This is the fourth time during 2012 that employers announced fewer job cuts than the same month in 2011. For the year, the job-cut tally reached 352,185, down 3% from same period in 2011. Leading the downsizing is the telecommunications sector with plans to shed 4,584 jobs. Of these cuts, 4,000 come from the anticipated cuts resulting from acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google (GOOG). Computer firms rank as the year's top job-cutters, having announced 37,670 job cuts since January 1, 2012. Over the last three months, fewer job cuts have effectively reversed a trend that saw increased downsizing through the first half of 2012 although it is too early to determine whether this will continue, Chief Executive John A. Challenger said. "If international job-cut activity is any indication, we may see a surge in downsizing in the final months of 2012 and into 2013," said Mr. Challenger. While the firm does not officially track downsizing by foreign companies, Mr. Challenger said it has been hard to miss some of the recent figures coming from overseas firms, including 10,000 job cuts recently announced by Sony (SNE, 6758.TO). "The U.S. does not exist in a bubble," said Mr. Challenger. "The ongoing crisis in Europe and weak economies around the globe will undoubtedly take a toll on the economy."

The international unit for Celgene (CELG) said the biopharmaceutical company's investigational treatment for psoriatic arthritis met primary efficacy goals in a long-term Phase 3 study. Celgene expects to file a new drug application for the apremilast treatment for psoriatic arthritis with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Q1 2013. During the second half of 2013 Celgene plans to apply for regulatory approval for apremilast to treat psoriatic arthritis and moderate-to-severe psoriasis in Europe. The study included nearly 1,500 patients that were given apremilast alone or in combination with other drugs, compared with a placebo, over 16 weeks with patients in the active treatment arms of the study maintained improvements through 24 weeks. Amgen said apremilast met the study's primary goal in a separate study of patients with Behcet's disease which is a rare inflammatory disease. Celgene is exploring opportunities to seek regulatory approval to use apremilast for Behcet's disease in a number of countries.

The ADP (ADP) employment report released Thursday showed that private-sector payrolls rose 201,000 during the month of August, led by small businesses and the service-providing sector. July data was revised to a gain of 173,000 from prior estimate of 163,000.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that first-time jobless claims for state unemployment benefits declined by the largest amount in more than a month, in the latest week. In the week ending September 1, initial jobless claims fell 12,000 to 365,000. The four-week average of jobless claims moved up slightly by 250 to 371,250. During the previous week, initial jobless claims were revised to an increase of 3,000 to 377,000 compared with the initial estimate that they held steady at 374,000.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday attempted to assure U.S. community banks that the vast majority of provisions in the 2008 financial crisis response - Dodd-Frank Act - do not apply to them. Responding to concerns by small banks about the changing regulatory environment, Bernanke said: "I think it is important to emphasize that the vast majority of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act do not apply to community banks at all." In a new Fed publication about community banks, Bernanke said prudential standards for larger banks are not meant to apply to small banks. Bernanke denied that more stringent requirements for big banks may be intended to apply to small banks at some point in the future. "This is not our intent" and the Fed Boss said he will "work to ensure that it does not happen." The Fed has issued guidance to make clear that stress tests for big banks do not apply to small banks, Bernanke added.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday said the central bank would launch an "outright monetary transaction" program in the secondary market, under strict conditionality. The move would allow the ECB to decide when to start, continue or suspend bond buys. The ECB will not act until a country applies for the plan. The ECB left unchanged its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.75%, while the Bank of England made no changes to interest rates or assets purchases. The announcement today is viewed as a crucial moment for global markets and Europe's financial system.


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Sept 6, 2012


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