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The Economy This Week

Small firms brace for tighter credit; storms cause surge in jobless claims.
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Turmoil on Wall Street has many small-business owners worrying about tighter credit conditions ahead, while Hurricane season is creating longer lines at the unemployment office. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may affect your business.

Small-Business Outlook Fades

The nation's small-business owners were bracing for tighter credit conditions, with many expecting the economy to fall into recession, the National Small Business Association reported Monday.

Of 250 owners surveyed last month, 79 percent said they were anticipating flat growth or a recession in the year ahead, the Washington-based group said. Another 67 percent said they felt the economy was worse off than it was five years ago.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they were affected by the credit crunch, up from 55 percent in a similar survey conducted in February.

"Small-business owners are feeling less confident in nearly every way, particularly with bank's ability to keep their money safe," Todd McCracken, the group's president, said in a statement.

New Home Sales Down

Sales of new homes continued to fall last month, dropping by 11.5 percent from July to an annual rate of 460,000, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The weaker sales pace, which was 34.5 percent below the same period last year, left enough homes on the market for a 10.9 month supply, the report said.

The median price for new homes sold in August was $221,900, down from $234,900 the previous month and $236,500 from a year ago.

Jobless Claims Up

Severe storms in recent weeks are being blamed for a surge in claims for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The number of new claims rose by 32,000 last week to 493,000, the report said. The adjusted insured unemployment rate the previous week was unchanged at 2.6 percent, representing about 3.542 million people filing for benefits.

The largest increases in new claims last week were reported in Louisiana and Florida, regions where the storms hit ground. By contrast, the biggest declines in claims were in Wisconsin, Arkansas and Indiana.




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