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Digest

Paulson prods China to get its reform in gear

By TIMES WIRES
Published December 9, 2006


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Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday the Chinese need to move more quickly on economic reforms because the rest of the world is growing impatient and protectionist pressures are rising. Paulson said that is the message a high-level delegation of administration officials will deliver to the Chinese during two days of talks next week in Beijing. "A big part of the dialogue is to persuade the Chinese to accelerate the pace of their reform," Paulson told CNBC. "They are a global economic leader and the rest of the world isn't going to give them a lot more time."

Payroll gains fail to lower jobless rate

Employers boosted payrolls by a respectable 132,000 in November, but the unemployment rate edged up to 4.5 percent as jobseekers streamed into the labor market by the thousands with the onrushing holidays. The tally of jobs added to the economy last month was above the 79,000 generated in October and was the most since September, the Labor Department reported Friday. Although the unemployment rate crept up from a five-year low of 4.4 percent in October, it also pointed to a labor market that is in good shape despite slumps in housing and autos. "The job market remains sturdy," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.

Now, there's more Toys "R" Us kids

China, the world's biggest toy workshop, got a Yuletime taste of American-style toy retailing with the grand opening Friday of the first mainland outlet of Toys "R" Us. The store, in Shanghai's Super Brand Mall in the riverside Lujiazui financial district, is run by Hong Kong-based trading company Li & Fung Retailing, which runs 47 Toys "R" Us stores in eight Asian markets. Toys "R" Us says it has more than 700 stores in the United States and 650 outlets in 31 other countries.

U.S. consumers are less confident

Consumer confidence dipped in December, suggesting Americans are feeling less cheery - but are not downright gloomy - as they hit the malls during the holiday season. The RBC Cash Index, based on the results of the international polling firm Ipsos, showed that confidence came in at 86.9. That was down from 92.4 in November, although October's number was even lower than December's. Shoppers' spirits can affect just how much they are willing to spend during the holidays. "I think the negative housing story is weighing on peoples' minds," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services.

Let government work, seniors say

Seniors strongly support a plan to let the federal government negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries, a new poll suggests. Currently, insurers do that negotiating on behalf of their customers, or they hire an outside organization to do it for them. But about 85 percent of seniors want to let the government use its buying power, including 65 percent who said they strongly favor such negotiations, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported on Friday. Only 12 percent opposed or strongly opposed government negotiations. House Democrats plan to introduce legislation in January that would require the government to negotiate. Support for the idea in the Senate is lukewarm. The Bush administration opposes it.

 

[Last modified December 8, 2006, 23:29:51]


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