Stocks Search For 'Santa Surge'

U.S. stock markets are in search of good news in an abbreviated work week. Monday's stock futures were higher, as investors begin a holiday week of trading.

News of any kind will be sparse -- few corporate earnings reports will be announced this holiday week. Investors were cheered, though, by the news late last week of GM and Chrysler receiving a $17.4 billion loan from the Treasury's TARP fund, in a move to stave off a major bankruptcy.

Investors are still wary about whether the aid will be enough to turn around the big automakers and save more than 2 million jobs. The loans will be given under strict conditions that have a tight timeline. Both automakers must show their businesses are viable and will be able to pay back the loans.

On Friday, the markets closed mostly higher on the news of the automakers' bailout. Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.59 percent, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index ended up 0.93 percent and Nasdaq composite was up 1.53 percent.

Sovereign Bancorp, EA To Cut 2,000 Jobs

Sovereign Bancorp, the Philadelphia, PA-based bank, and video-game designer Electronic Arts said on Friday they will be forced to cut a total of 2,000 jobs, laying blame on the recession.

EA will close nine facilities in addition to cutting 1,000 positions, or 10% of its workforce. The job cuts are across all divisions of the company. EA has facilities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, TX, and Orlando, FL.

Bailout Banks Handing Out Cash To Execs

The same banks that are receiving bailout money from the TARP funds from the federal government handed out nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses and other benefits in 2007 to their executives. Of the 116 banks so far that have received taxpayer money to help them through the financial crisis they have received $188 billion.

This startling information comes from an Associated Press study that shows cut their executive compensation in the face of faltering performance that foreshadowed the current economic crisis, but still granted multimillion-dollar packages. These benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management. This information was gleaned from federal securities filings.

The annual reports that the banks file with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed the banks paid their top executives an average of $2.6 billion in salary, bonus and benefits. At the top of the list was Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, who got $54 million in compensation in 2007. The company's top five executives received a total of $242 million Jobless Rates up in 37 States

The November jobless rates are up in 37 states, and over the past year unemployment rates increased in 49 states, as national unemployment rose to 6.7 percent, up from October's 6.5 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report released on Friday, only five states reported decreases in unemployment, and eight states had no change. Unemployment rates rose in 37 states and the District of Columbia last month as the ongoing recession hit almost every job sector.


About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.




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