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Market News (01/14/2013)

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/13)

  • The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly grew in November. Contributing factors were imports of nonpetroleum products such as cellphones reaching record highs, a rebound in demand for foreign autos after Hurricane Sandy, and U.S. retailers stockpiling imported goods for holiday shoppers (The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com Jan. 11). The trade gap widened 15.8% to $48.73 billion from $42.06 billion in October, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists had predicted the November gap would shrink to $41.2 billion, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey. Imports and exports both will rise as the U.S. and global and economies improve, Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, told Bloomberg. However, Jones said imports will grow more than exports  …
  • The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) Weekly Leading Index--which measures economic growth--increased to 128.3 for the week ended Jan. 4 from 126.6 the prior week (Moody's Economy.com Jan. 11). The smoothed, annualized growth rate inched up to 5.1% from 5%, picking up for the sixth week in the past eight. Although both gauges continue to fluctuate, the weekly leading index is gradually improving, and the smoothed, annualized growth rate still is near its year-to-date high, ECRI said. Since both measures tend to lead changes in the business cycle, they suggest an uptick in future economic growth, ECRI said  ...

News of the Competition (01/14/2013)

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MADISON, Wis. (1/14/13)

  • No women were among the promotions of executives announced Monday by Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat (American Banker Jan. 11). The 13 executives currently reporting to Corbat are male. When Corbat announced the bank changes and promotions in a memo, the only woman mentioned was Sara Wechter, Corbat's new chief of staff, who held the same position for Chairman Michael O'Neill, the Banker said. Although male-dominated executive circles at large U.S. banks is nothing new, Citigroup appears to be an extreme example, with only one woman among it 24-member operating committee, the Banker said …
  • To better their bottom lines, small U.S. community banks are again attempting to streamline operations and reduce costs (American Banker Jan. 10). Several banks have instigated plans to cut long-term costs by upgrading technology, trimming work forces and pruning branch networks, the Banker said. However, management teams have had to return to the drawing board to reduce expenses, because compliance costs are rising and the interest-rate environment remains problematic, the Banker said …