What happened in the news this week that affects how you live and invest? Here's a highly curated (read: extremely subjective) list of stories about financial milestones for the week of August 26. From mortgage rates and gold prices to cigarette ads and the ups and downs of the Indian Rupee -- we've got it covered.
CIGARETTES For the first time in 43 years, cigarette ads will be back on TV starting next month. This time, the ads will be for an e-cigarette known as Vuse which is expected to cost around $10 and last about as long as a pack of traditional cigarettes. It comes from Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), the company that once marketed Winston cigarettes. (Remember Joe Camel?) Cigarette ads were banned from the airwaves in 1971 by the U.S. government. That ban doesn’t extend to today’s electronic cigarettes, yet. (8/26)
MORTGAGES Mortgage rates fell for the first time in five weeks as the housing market recovery showed signs of slowing. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 4.51 percent. (8/29) If you didn’t refinance earlier, don’t get too excited. Rates are still far from the low of 3.35 percent in May. You won't get much relief from the rising housing market either -- it isn't about to drop dead any time soon. (8/28)
CONFIDENCE Consumer confidence fell to its lowest level in four months as American’s worried about rising mortgage rates, higher fuel costs due to turmoil in the Middle East and the likelihood that all this means they will have having less disposable income. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to minus 31.7 for the period ending August 25, it’s lowest since April 7. (8/29)
GOLD Russia took advantage of gold’s falling prices, boosting its reserves above 1,000 metric tons in July. It is the first time since 1993 that Russia’s reserve has been this high. The purchase comes at a time when gold prices have fallen by as much as 15 percent this year. (8/27)
PENSIONS The rate New York and its local governments pay for the pension fund will drop for the first time in five years on April 1, 2014. The drop is possible because of strong gains over the past four years in the investments held by the New York State Common Retirement Fund. So no need to worry about the pension's obligation to pay its retirees. (8/27)
CURRENCY The Indian rupee swooned this week. The rupee rose 3.4%, its biggest jump since 1986. (8/29) The increase came on news that the Reserve Bank of India will supply dollars to Indian state-owned oil importers cooling demand for foreign exchange. The Reserve Bank will later repurchase the dollars. Just one day earlier, on August 28, the rupee plunged 3.9 percent, the most in 20 years, on worries about a rise in oil prices due to the situation in Syria.
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