Happy Days Here Again? US Claims Hit 5-1/2 yr Low, Wall Street Ratings Game Is Back, Blackstone, Deutsche Bank in Talks to Sell Bond Backed by Home Rentals

Methadone Markets Continue To Inflate

US Jobless claims plunge to lowest in nearly six years

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week, touching a 5-1/2 year low, suggesting a steadily improving labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, the lowest level since January 2008, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.


Banks Find S.&P. More Favorable in Bond Ratings

The Wall Street ratings game is back.

Five years after inflated credit ratings helped touch off the financial crisis, the nation’s largest ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, is winning business again by offering more favorable ratings.

S.& P. has been giving higher grades than its big rivals to certain mortgage-backed securities just as Wall Street is eagerly trying to revive the market for these investments, according to an analysis conducted for The New York Times by Commercial Mortgage Alert, which collects data on the industry. S.& P.’s chase for business is notable because it is fighting a government lawsuit accusing it of similar action before the financial crisis.


Blackstone, Deutsche Bank in Talks to Sell Bond Backed by Home Rentals

Two major Wall Street firms are in detailed discussions to create and sell the world’s first bond backed by home-rental payments, people familiar with the matter say.

Blackstone Group LP BX +1.86% is in negotiations to bundle monthly rental payments on about 1,500 to 1,700 of its homes. The private-equity giant is among the firms that have spent billions buying homes out of foreclosure, an investment strategy that has helped to bolster demand and strengthen the U.S. housing market.

The bond comprised of the Blackstone homes would be structured and marketed to investors by Deutsche BankAG, DBK.XE +1.40% the people say.

The creation of a new type of security shows that Wall Street’s financial engineering, blamed for deepening the financial crisis, is revving back up.


Ouch! Exxon Mobil posts big profit miss; Shell takes $2 billion shale charge

Exxon Mobil said net income fell 57 percent in the second quarter on weaker refining results, lower production and minus a big gain in the year-ago quarter.

Separately, rival Royal Dutch Shellreported a 57 percent drop in second-quarter net profits and it significantly wrote down the value of its shale oil fields in North America.


Citi downgrades JC Penney stock to ‘sell’