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McClatchy-Tribune  08/29/2014 10:40 PM ET
Daily Wrap: Stocks hit new record; S&P warns on Arch Coal [St. Louis Post-Dispatch :: ]

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Aug. 29--TODAY'S INDEXES -- Dow Industrials 17098 +19

S&P 500 2003 +7

Nasdaq 2580 +23

STOCKS FINISH HIGHER: The S&P Index inched to a new high today, closing at 2003.36 for a 0.33 percent gain. The index of big-company American stocks is up 3.8 percent for the month.

Traders ignored the rumble of artillery from the Ukraine and paid attention to rising confidence among American consumers in the University of Michigan's latest survey.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.11 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.5 percent.

U R FIRED: Up to 100 worker at a Peabody Energy mine in Australia were fired by text message, the Brisbane Times reports.

The contract workers were employed by Thiess, an engineering company, to work at the mine as drivers and machinery operators.

The chief of their union accused Thiess of treating workers like "sausages on the shelf at the butchers."

Thiess has since apologized for sacking them by text. Peabody is based in downtown St. Louis.

S&P GOES NEGATIVE ON ARCH: Standard & Poors has changed its outlook for Arch Coal to negative from stable. The rating agency affirmed its "B" rating on the corporate debt and CCC-plus rating on its senior unsecured debt. Those ratings are below investment grade.

S&P cited the weak market for metalurgical coal. S&P expects prices to improve in the next 12 to 18 months but is worried that they might not. "This would cause Arch to continue burning cash and use liquidity faster than forecast," S&P said.

AMERICANS GET THRIFTY: Americans were more confident, in August, but spent less in July. The mixed signals add confusion in the business of economic forecasting.

Consumer confidence rose unexpectedly in August with the Thomson Reuter/University of Michigan index rising to 82.5 in August from 81.1 in July. But household purchases unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent in July, the first drop in six months, the Commerce Department reported. Incomes rose at the slowest pace of the year, and savings climbed to a high last seen in 2012.

Consumers power two thirds of the economy, making confidence and spending numbers critical in forecasting economic growth. Spending had risen from 0.4 percent in June.

STL STOCKS GAINERS LOSERS

Reliv International 4.27% Allied Healthcare -2.4%

Isle of Capri Casinos 2.86% Viasystems -2.02%

World Point Terminals 1.81% Post Holdings -1.12

THE WEEK AHEAD: The big economic news will hit on Friday, when the Labor Department announces the monthly job numbers. Economists expect the unemployment rate to drop to 6.1 percent for August from July's 6.2 percent. Forecasters think the economy created 225,000 jobs this month after adding 209,000 in July.

Tuesday brings the Institute for Supply Management's report and economists expect a reading of 57 for August on the manufacturing index, after 57.1 for July. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Forecasters expect a 57.6 reading on the non-manufacturing measure, down from 58.7.

U.S. auto sales numbers are also due Wednesday and economist expect that Americans bought cars at a 13.2 million annual rate in August, up from 12.95 million in July.

Jim Gallagher is a reporter for the Post-Dispatch

 

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