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USPS Loss 68% Larger Than Last Year
USPS Loss 68% Larger Than Last Year

On Thursday the United States Postal Service - USPS - reported a $5.2 billion loss - 68% larger than the $3.1 billion loss reported for same period a year earlier - for fiscal Q3 that ended June 30, showing that the agency's financial woes are deepening. The company is unable to keep up with obligations to its retirees as first-class mail volumes continue to decline. The USPS projects that it will nearly run out of cash before the fiscal year ends next month and with little funds on hand, it plans to default on a $5.6 billion retiree health-care payment due September 30. The agency already defaulted on a $5.5 billion pre-funding payment due earlier this month. The USPS will be forced to prioritize payments to employees and suppliers to ensure it can deliver the mail. The cash situation is expected to improve in the final months of 2012, when holiday deliveries typically cause revenue to increase. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe again called on Congress to institute reforms to shore up the agency's operations. The Senate passed a reform bill earlier this year, but the House has yet to take action.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries warned of a 'horizon full of turbulence' that could lead to a significant decline in oil-demand growth next year, as its monthly oil market report showed the group's output fell last month to its lowest since February. OPEC's oil demand growth forecast for 2013 faces significant risks due to uncertainties hanging over the global economy. A worsening of the current situation could reduce the current forecast for growth of 0.8 million barrels a day next year by as much as 20%. OPEC's own production declined last month to 31.2 million barrels a day, mainly due to declines in Iranian, Saudi Arabian, Libyan and Angolan oil production. This data showed that Iran's production in July fell by 173,000 barrels per day, the first month after the European Union imposed a full embargo on the country's oil.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 10.7 % in June to $42.9 billion, striking the smallest trade gap since December 2010. The smaller deficit should boost Q2 GDP from the initial estimate of a 1.5% annual growth rate. In June, exports rose slightly and imports declined. The U.S. trade deficit with China widened to $27.4 billion in June compared with $26.6 billion in the same month 2011. The government revised the deficit in May to $48.0 billion from $48.7 billion.

The Labor Department reported Thursday, first-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly in the latest week with the number of initial claims in the week ending August. 4 down 6,000 to 361,000. The four-week average rose 2,250 to 368,250 while claims in previous week were revised to an increase of 10,000 to 367,000 compared with the initial estimate of a gain of 8,000 to 365,000.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday wholesale inventories slipped 0.2% in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $481.9 billion, mostly on a drop in petroleum stockpiles, but also as inventories for automotive, furniture and metals categories fell. May inventories were revised lower to a flat reading from an initially reported 0.3% gain while the ratio of inventories to sales moved slightly higher to 1.20 from 1.18 in May.

Google Inc. (GOOG) agreed to pay a $22.5 million penalty on Thursday, to settle a dispute with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The penalty stems from charges by the FTC that Google misrepresented users of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) Safari Web browser after saying it would not place tracking 'cookies' or serve targeted ads to Safari users. Google's actions violated an earlier privacy settlement between the FTC and Google.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Thursday, mortgage delinquencies - delinquencies include mortgages that are at least one payment past due but not yet in the foreclosure process - rose in Q2 to a seasonally adjusted rate of 7.58% of all mortgages, up from 7.4% in Q1. Mortgage delinquencies were up only slightly over the last quarter," said Jay Brinkmann, MBA's chief economist, in a news release. "Perhaps more important than the small size of the increase however, is the fact that it reversed the trend of fairly steady drops in delinquencies we have seen over the last year. This is consistent with the slowdown in the economy during the first half of the year and our stubbornly high unemployment rate." In Q2, the percentage of mortgages entering the foreclosure process was unchanged from Q1 at 0.96%. For Q2, the percentage of mortgages somewhere in the foreclosure process was 4.27%, down from 4.39% in Q1. The MBA survey covers about 88% of all first-lien residential mortgages outstanding in the United States.


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Aug 9, 2012


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