European debt buyers took it in the shorts yesterday when Moody’s Investors Service followed sister-business Standard & Poor’s move last January by stripping France of its sparkling triple-A credit rating. Fitch remains the only agency of the “Big3”not to reduce France’s rating. Yet all three have a “negative” outlook for the country. The Moody’s downgrade to Aa1 from Aaa came as a bit of a shock after France saw a .2% rise in gross domestic product (GDP) for Q3 2012. France is the first “core” European Union (EU) country to experience a downgrade.
After a four-year high for housing starts in September, October slipped back a little with an adjusted annual rate of 840,000 new starts. While investors can take heart that this number is almost twice as high as the recession low of 478,000 starts in April of 2009, it’s only about half of the 1.5 million considered average for a “healthy” economy. As with many things this past fall, Hurricane Sandy is thought to have skewed the figures. Going forward, the number is expected to grow again, reflecting a six-year high in builder confidence.
In a somewhat bizarre turn, World Bank Organization (WBO) President Jim Yong Kim warned of the devastating consequences that a four-degree Celsius rise in average temperature would create. Crop failures and coastal flooding would starve and displace millions, not to mention throw the commodities markets into turmoil. By speaking out, the WBO President hoped to encourage countries to pursue more aggressive greenhouse-gas limitations. Elsewhere, there’s still no word on when the Weather Channel will announce its opinion on the fiscal cliff.
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