Morning Report: UK Sees Weakest Economic Growth Since 1940's

In the last ten years, the UK has experienced its weakest economic growth since the 1940's and worst stock market returns since the 1930's. The Financial Times reports that GDP rose on average just 1.7 percent annually while manufacturing output contracted by 1.2 percent annually. While recovery is expected, officials in the UK are warning of lagging unemployment, a problem we're also facing here in the United States.

Initial public offerings are rebounding, bringing in big fees for companies like Goldman Sachs. Thirty-two companies have held offerings since the start of September, after slowing to just two offerings a month during the first part of the year. Bloomberg reports that out of those offerings, Goldman Sachs led the way in fees, making $191.6 million by helping take companies public. IPOS are big business for Wall Street banks, since fees for this service are generally much higher than other types of deals. So far this year, banks have increased their fees for helping with IPOs by 62 percent.

The latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index shows home prices rose in October for the fifth month in a row. The overall index increased 0.4 percent, but 11 metro areas saw declines. Among those areas, Las Vegas is hurting the most. Home prices there have now fallen for 38 consecutive months.

Meantime, Bank of America's new CEO says he'll pull back on the credit card business when he takes over next month. Bank of America is the nation's second-largest card issuer, but the Wall Street Journal reports that its cards have lost $4.5 billion during the first nine months of 2009, "making it the worst performing Bank of America business line." The company is already planning changes to the way it issues cards. Starting in January, the bank says it will focus on how many different products they can sell to existing customers rather than how many credit cards. The bank will also ask customers interested in a new card to speak with a "personal banker" rather than just a teller.

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