US economy adds 146K jobs

Updated 07 December 2012
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US economy adds 146K jobs

WASHINGTON: The US economy added 146,000 jobs in November and the jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008. The drop, however, was largely due to the fact that more Americans stopped looking for work and weren't counted as unemployed.
The Labor Department's report yesterday offered a mixed picture of the economy.
Hiring remained steady during the Superstorm Sandy and in the face of looming tax increases. But the government said employers added 49,000 fewer jobs in October and September than it initially estimated.
And the unemployment rate fell to a four-year low in November from 7.9 percent in October, reflecting a continued exodus of workers from the labor force.
The report "is something of a mixed bag but, on balance, it's a positive," said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.
Sandy's effect on the figures was much smaller many analysts had predicted. The government noted that as long as employees worked at least one day during a pay period — two weeks for most people — its survey would have counted them as employed.
Still, there were signs that the storm disrupted economic activity. Construction employment dropped 20,000. And weather prevented 369,000 people from getting to work — the most for any month in nearly two years. These workers were still counted as employed.
Stock futures jumped after the report. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 20 points in the minutes before the report came out at 8:30 a.m., and just afterward were up 70 points.
As money shifted into stocks, it moved out of safer bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note, which moves opposite the price, rose to 1.63 percent from 1.58 percent just before the report was released.

Since July, the economy has added an average of 158,000 jobs a month. That's a modest pickup from 146,000 average in the first six months of the year.
The job growth suggests that most employers aren't yet delaying hiring because of the "fiscal cliff." That's the combination of sharp tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect next year unless the White House and Congress reach a budget deal before then.
There is "no obvious impact from the looming fiscal cliff yet," Ashworth added, "but it could still have a greater effect on December's figures."
Last month, retailers added 53,000 positions. Temporary help companies added 18,000 and education and health care also gained 18,000.
Auto manufacturers added nearly 10,000 jobs.
Still, overall manufacturing jobs fell 7,000. That was pushed down by a loss of 12,000 jobs in food manufacturing that likely reflects the layoff of workers at Hostess.
Sandy forced restaurants, retailers and other businesses to close in late October and early November in 24 states, particularly in the Northeast.
The US grew at a solid 2.7 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. But many economists say growth is slowing to a 1.5 percent rate in the October-December quarter, largely because of the storm and threat of the fiscal cliff. That's not enough growth to lower the unemployment rate.
The storm held back consumer spending and income, which drive economic growth. Consumer spending declined in October and work interruptions caused by Sandy reduced wages and salaries that month by about $ 18 billion at an annual rate, the government said.
Still, many say economic growth could accelerate next year if the fiscal cliff is avoided. The economy is also expected to get a boost from efforts to rebuild in the Northeast after the storm.


Saudi insurance stocks soar as female drivers take to the road

Saudi Majdoleen Mohammed Alateeq, a newly licensed Saudi driver, gets out of her car in Riyadh on Sunday. The insurance sector is just one segment of the economy set to benefit from the lifting of restrictions on women drivers in the Kingdom. AFP
Updated 25 June 2018
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Saudi insurance stocks soar as female drivers take to the road

LONDON: Saudi insurance stocks surged on Sunday, with investors expecting the sector to reap significant dividends following the lifting of the ban on female drivers.
Insurance stocks — one of the worst performing sectors on the Saudi bourse for the year to date — outperformed other classifications on Sunday, ending 2.4 percent higher, compared with a 1.8 percent rise for the Kingdom’s headline index.
Amana Insurance and AlRajhi Takaful were the best performers of the day, gaining 9.9 percent each. Tawuniya, the Kingdom’s largest insurer, ended Sunday 1.1 percent higher, with only one of the country’s 33 listed insurance providers closing lower for the day.
The lifting of restrictions on female drivers — which came into effect on Sunday after first being announced in September — is part of a series of wide-ranging reforms introduced as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic transformation program, designed to diversify the economy away from a reliance on oil revenues.
The advent of women drivers is forecast to benefit the economy by significantly increase female participation in the workforce, and stimulating financial, insurance and retail sectors among others.
The insurance sector is set to draw particular benefit from the move, but may remain under pressure, according to rating agency S&P.
“We anticipate that efforts of the local authorities to tackle the large number of uninsured drivers, combined with the arrival of women drivers … and the introduction of additional benefits under the unified medical policy from July 1, will support further premium growth in the industry in the medium term,” said S&P in a research note in April.
“However, these factors may be offset by the large number of foreign workers that have already left or will be leaving the Kingdom in 2018.”
In spite of yesterday’s price surge, insurance stocks are 8.4 percent lower for the year to date. Tadawul as a whole is up 15.6 percent so far this year, making the bourse one of the world’s best performers for 2018.
Investor sentiment on Sunday was also boosted by investor optimism after index provider MSCI announced last week that it would upgrade Saudi stocks to its Emerging Markets Index from next year.
The widely anticipated upgrade — which puts Saudi equities on an index tracked by around $2 trillion worth of global assets — is expected to attract up to $40 billion of international funds, Tadawul CEO Khalid Al-Hussan told Arab News last week.
MSCI’s upgrade came after a similar move by fellow index provider FTSE Russell in February, which is also scheduled to come into effect from next year.
Banks were among the other bright performers on Tadawul on Sunday. Arab National Bank led gains, closing up 4.2 percent, while blue-chip names NCB and AlRajhi rose 1.6 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.
Some petrochemical companies also added value, Reuters reported, following a rise in oil prices after OPEC decided on only modest increases in crude production last week.
Outside Saudi Arabia, Gulf markets posted minor gains. In Dubai, where the index was flat, Air Arabia was unchanged. Shares in the airline have declined by more than 10 percent since early last week, when the company said it had hired experts to protect its business interests in private equity firm Abraaj, which has filed for provisional liquidation. The airline said its exposure was around $336 million.
Last week, the UAE’s securities regulator asked listed companies to declare their exposure to Abraaj.