Stocks fell Friday after the government reported that more jobs were lost in September than had been expected.
The decline in stocks was more moderate than the previous day’s big drop, but extended the market’s losses into a fourth straight day. After coming within 82 points of the 10,000 level last week, the Dow Jones industrials have pulled back about 4.5 percent.
The day’s news added to a recent string of bad indicators for the economy. The Labor Department reported that employers cut 263,000 jobs last month, up from 201,000 in August and worse than the 180,000 losses economists were expecting. The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, in line with forecasts.
Unemployment has been one of the market’s biggest concerns throughout the recession because lost jobs mean trouble for nearly every part of the economy, from people defaulting on loans, cutting back their spending and getting forced into foreclosure on their homes. Most economists expect the rate to surpass 10 percent by early next year.
A surprise decline in factory orders Friday was also troubling investors. The Commerce Department said factory orders fell 0.8 percent in August following a 1.4 percent gain in July. Analysts had been expecting a 0.7 percent increase.
A spate of bad economic news this week has led to even more doubts that the 50 percent surge in stocks over the past six months can be sustained. On Thursday, the Dow tumbled more than 200 points after a disappointing report on manufacturing activity from the Institute for Supply Management dealt another blow to optimism that had been emerging about a recovery in the industrial sector.
Still, analysts were encouraged by Friday’s orderly trading, saying the modest decline is a sign that investors are willing to use pullbacks in their favour to pick up stocks they see as being cheap.
“Pullbacks are going to constantly be used as opportunities to get into the market,” said Hank Smith, chief investment officer of equity at Haverford Investments in Radnor, Pa.
At midday, the Dow fell 10.88, or 0.1 percent, to 9,498.40, after earlier falling as much as 79 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.43, or 0.3 percent, to 1,026.42, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 4.56, or 0.2 percent, to 2,052.92.
About 3 stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 637.1 million shares, compared with 532.8 million at the same time on Thursday.
In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies lost 2.72, or 0.5 percent, to 581.03.
Yields on long-term Treasurys hovered at their lowest levels since the spring. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note held steady at a five-month low of 3.18 percent.
FOI Act Implementation Bothers BPST Boss
The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has expressed regrets that the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has remained very low since the law was enacted.
The BPSR boss made the observation during a workshop held on Wednesday in Abuja on the appraisal of Freedom of Information Act.
Arabi said the Act was meant to entrench transparency and openness in governance through improved compliance to annual reporting obligations of public institutions.
“It is also expected to guide and improve compliance of public institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower citizens, the right to access information held by the state.
“Regrettably, since the introduction of the FOI Act, it is evident that the level of compliance among public institutions still remains low.
“While the level of engagement by citizens still remains insignificant and in some cases fraught with misunderstanding between the State and Non-State actors,” he added.
Arabi, therefore, said that the workshop was to resolve some of the grey areas around FOI, as well as foster a harmonious relationship between the State and Non-State actors towards the implementation of the Act.
He said good governance and transparency would only thrive in the country when citizens access to Information is assured.
The DG emphasised that the FOIA provided platform for inclusiveness that sought to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision making process.
Arabi said that the Bureau had worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Act and was making efforts to ensure that it was institutionalized across the public sector.
He said that the interventions were in the areas of training public service workers and development of feedback mechanism through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request were deployed.
Others, he said, are score-card for ranking the performances of websites of public institutions using specific benchmarks, including FOI portal.
“Creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes such as the monthly Lunchtime Seminar series,” he added.
Arabi said that the Bureau had also deployed information technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management using intranet and Electronic Data Management Systems.
He continued that they were working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of citizens on public policies.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria, Dr Gloria Ahmed, said making information open was a hallmark of democracy and a basic human right.
She said that the FOIA has given citizens the opportunity to access information as regards government policies and reforms.
FCTA Harmonises Mobile Adverts, Haulage System Against Double Taxation
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS), has launched the FCT/State Mobile Advertisement and Haulage permits for 2023 financial year.
Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, while launching the system sought the cooperation of the business owners in the FCT, in order to achieve the objective of the initiative.
Adesola said the move was part of efforts to facilitate the ease of doing business drive in the nation’s capital.
He commended DOAS for the initiative. aimed at improving institutional cooperation and partnerships with the critical stakeholders.
Adesola warned: “FCTA would no longer tolerate acts of thuggery in the collection of taxes, as there are better ways of doing such, which will ensure the attainment of ease of doing business.”
He commended the leadership of Area Councils for resolving to synergise with DOAS to streamline the system.
The Permanent Secretary said the proliferation of collection authorities for mobile advertisements had led to serious loss of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the FCT.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, Kwali Area Council, Danladi Chiya, said although Area Councils have the constitutional right to collect such advertisements, they have no issue with FCTA over the establishment and mandate of DOAS.
LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation
The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.
By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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