Money Daily Brief: Jobless claims fall

Asian stocks rise on the strength of better US retail sales and strong JPMorgqn Chase earnings.

Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
Well-wishers in Bangkok prayed Oct. 15 for the fast recovery of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His hospitalization caused Thai stocks to fall a second straight day.

Updated 11:35 a.m. EDT (15:35 UTC)

US jobless claims down: Initial claims dropped 10,000 to 514,000 last week, a better showing than many analysts predicted. It was the fifth decline in six weeks, bringing the four week average down to 531,500, the lowest total since January.

Asia eyes US improvement: Asian markets advanced, responding to JPMorgan Chase's $3.6 billion quarterly profit and to new retail data showing a sustained increase in American consumer sales). Japan's Nikkei index closed up 1.8 percent and Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent. By contrast, Thai stocks plummeted a second straight day over health concerns about 'Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving living monarch and a unifying figure in a fractious country.

•US foreclosure record: Nearly 940,000 homes -- one in every 136 housing units -- received a foreclosure notice in the third quarter, the worse rate on record. The administration's foreclosure-prevention program has been sluggish, analysts said.

•European prices fall: September was the fourth month of decline in a row, mainly due to lower energy prices and company cost-cutting. Separately, Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to sell its Central European operations for $3 billion, a move to trim its $53 billion debt after purchasing Anheuser-Busch. Also, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG reported a 9.7 rise in third-quarter revenue on the strength of its flu drug.

•In my backyard: ExxonMobil faces a potential bidding war with a Chinese state-owned oil driller for access to Ghana's new offshore oil field. Exxon's deal to extract the oil, which Ghana's government may scrap for China's, represents a growing scramble for Africa's energy and a parallel contest by the two world powers to win over African governments. A new appraisal suggests there may be more oil at stake in the rivalry. Ghana's final decision could influence other governments in the region, where even more undiscovered oil may be lurking and could open a new chapter in Africa's oil troubles.

Drew Hinshaw is a Monitor contributor in Accra, Ghana. More million-dollar bonuses at AIG? See Obama 'pay czar' lacks clout.

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