Your Money in The News -- Financial Firsts

What happened in the news this week that affects how you live and invest? Here's a highly curated (read: extremely subjective) collection of stories about financial milestones for the week of August 12. And hey, happy belated birthday, Social Security program! (It was signed into existence 78 years ago on August 14.)

GOLD Hedge fund manager John Paulson, who told investors as recently as last month that they should own gold, cut his holdings in the metal by more than half as prices tumbled. Paulson & Co., the largest investor in the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), cut its ownership for the first time since 2011. (8/15) Signs that demand for coins and jewelry rose during the plunge in prices has gold traders the most bullish in five months. (8/16)

BONDS Yields on 10-year Treasury notes climbed above 2.8 percent for the first time in two years as reports showed U.S. initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level in almost six years and confidence among U.S. homebuilders rose to the highest level since 2005. (8/15) Now corporate bonds rated AAA yield more than debt graded a tier lower, a divergence that’s happened only twice in the past decade as investors sour on securities with the most to lose when interest rates rise. (8/16)

APPLE The stock of the world's largest technology company topped $500 for the first time since January, a day after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a stake in Apple Inc. (AAPL), and amid optimism that new iPhones and iPads can bolster growth. (8/14)

BLACKBERRY Smartphone-maker BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) said for the first time it’s considering a sale, after a string of quarterly revenue declines pushed its market value down to $5.1 billion. (8/13) Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins stands to make $55.6 million (presumably, uh, for the first time) if he sells the company and is ousted.

EUROPE The manufacturing industry in Europe expanded in July for the first time in two years and business confidence improved for a third month, bolstering optimism that the economy edged back to growth last quarter after 18 months of contraction. (8/12)

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