Washington Extra – housing gloomy

August 16, 2010

Gloomy housing data today with home builders’ optimism hitting almost a 1-1/2 year low in August, which along with other recent economic reports suggests the slowdown continued in the third quarter. More to come tomorrow when July housing starts are reported at 8:30 a.m. Even if starts edge up a bit, the number to watch is building permits which are an indication of things to come. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama went with familiar themes in Wisconsin where he visited a battery plant and a fundraiser as he began a three-day trip to five states. He took aim at Republicans, saying: “These are the same folks in Washington who made the political calculation that it was better to stand on the sidelines than work as a team to help the American worker.”

The Republican National Committee also had its say today, releasing a video to coincide with Obama’s trip that was a take-off on the dramatic job-quitting flight attendant saga. It showed Democrats in tight races sliding down an emergency chute to evacuate a plane with Obama on board.

Two-and-a-half months left…

Here are our top stories from today:

Home builder mood sours, manufacturing edges up

Home builder sentiment fell for a third straight month in August to its lowest level in nearly 1-1/2 years, pointing to a weak housing market as the economic recovery loses steam. Further signs that the recovery from the longest and deepest recession since the 1930s was taking a step back were contained in another report that showed below-forecast growth in manufacturing activity in New York state, with new orders and shipments tumbling.

To read more of this story by Lucia Mutikani and Wanfeng Zhou, click here.

Obama touts economic plans on campaign odyssey

President Barack Obama criss-crossed the United States touting his economic stimulus policies and slamming rival Republicans as he campaigned for Democrats fighting to keep control of Congress in November’s elections. At a stop at a battery plant in Wisconsin he sought to convince voters he can ease high unemployment and has a plan to fix a slowing economy in which fears of a double-dip recession have grown recently. Obama took aim at Republicans, whom he said seek to turn back the clock by resisting his administration’s efforts to bolster the sagging economy.

To read more of this story by Patricia Zengerle, click here.

Defense chief Gates says wants to leave in 2011

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a driving force behind both the Afghan war plan and in overhauling the Pentagon’s finances, said he aims to retire next year. But his press secretary Geoff Morrell shot down suggestions that Gates announced his retirement in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, saying it was nothing more than “musings” over a wish to quit, which the defense chief has done before.

To read more of this story by Sue Pleming, click here. 

Barclays to pay $298 million in sanctions case

Barclays Bank Plc has agreed to pay $298 million to settle criminal charges that it violated U.S. sanctions in dealings with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Myanmar, according to court documents. The London-based bank was charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act in its dealings that involved $500 million from 1995 until September 2006, according to the documents.

To read more of this story by James Vicini, click here.

What we are blogging…

Who doesn’t want to be seen with whom?

Congress is in recess and lawmakers are gearing up for midterm elections in November. The Republican National Committee decided to liven up a slow mid-August Monday with a video taking aim at Democrats who might not want to stand too close to President Barack Obama and his sagging approval ratings. 

To read Toby Zakaria’s full blog, click here.

For more, take a look at: Front Row Washington.

And some stories from elsewhere…

Technical twists delay timing of BP final well kill

Technical issues muddled the timing of BP’s planned final kill of its blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well as concerns lingered over the food safety and health fallout from the world’s worst offshore oil spill.

To read more of this story, click here.

Golfing is popular for career advancement 

Nearly 40 percent of employees in India play golf to mingle with senior business executives, the highest proportion of any country surveyed in a new poll. Golfing to get ahead was also popular in China, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia where 33 percent of people questioned in a Reuter/Ipsos poll said they used the sport as a means of professional social networking.

To read more of this story, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama speaks in Wisconsin)

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