Poised for recovery, economy is lurching forward

Americans are feeling better about the economy, home prices are on the rise and companies are forecasting a brighter 2010.

While no one doubts the economy has a long way to go to come back from the punishing recession, the reports Tuesday were signs of progress for a recovery that has proceeded in fits and starts.

“We’re definitely moving in the right direction,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Economy.com. “But on the other hand, we’re moving there from a very low point. And we’re still at a very low point.”

Consumer confidence rose in January for the third straight month, the Conference Board said Tuesday. People said they felt better about the economy and were more willing to buy big-ticket items like cars and refrigerators. [Read the full article]

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Dear Dr. Don,I have some large CDs coming due right now. With CD rates so low, I’m not sure what to do with them. I usually like investments that are safe and do not have any risk. Do you have any suggestions? What is the next best thing going right now next to CDs?– Bob Basis-Point

Dear Bob,Conservative investors can easily manage risk to principal by choosing investments with guaranteed principal payment. A deposit insured by the Federal Insurance Deposit Corp. or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund is backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

Treasury securities are also backed by the full faith and credit of the government, but their values fluctuate over the holding period as market interest rates fluctuate. However, the government does guarantee that it will pay the agreed-upon rate when a Treasury security matures.

The following table compares some recent highest CD yields reported on Bankrate with yields on U.S. [Read the full article]

Iceland’s central bank on Wednesday cut its key interest rate by half a point to 9.5 percent to help the economy as the inflation rate eases and the national currency stabilizes.

The seven-day collateral lending rate peaked at 18 percent in October 2008, when Iceland’s banking system collapsed under the strain of a global credit crisis.

Sedlabanki, the central bank, also trimmed its deposit rate on current accounts by half a point to 8.0 percent.

The national currency, the krona, has been broadly stable since the summer, the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said, “despite internal and external developments that could have been expected to affect the krona negatively, in particular the recent turmoil caused by the president’s decision not to sign the Icesave legislation.”

On Jan. 5, reacting to strong public opposition, President Olafur R. [Read the full article]

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From the start, the man accused of killing motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker told a startling tale: He said Locker asked for help stabbing himself to death so his family could collect life insurance money.

Six months later, evidence is mounting that Kenneth Minor may have told nothing but the truth, prosecutors and Minor’s lawyer say.

“Certain information has been discovered which tends to lend some support to that claim” — including findings that the debt-ridden Locker had bought numerous insurance policies, changed their beneficiaries and researched funeral arrangements online not long before he died, prosecutors said in a letter last month.

While prosecutors say they haven’t reached any new conclusions about Locker’s death, defense lawyer Daniel J. Gotlin asked a court Wednesday to tell them to pursue lesser charges than the murder and robbery counts Minor now faces. [Read the full article]

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