Economic Daily Outlook




Europe’s Markets Are Tested Anew

New strains surfaced in European markets as a slide in the euro forced Switzerland’s central bank to intervene in currency markets and Spanish bond yields climbed to their highest level this year.

While trading was thin ahead of the Easter break, traders said the moves reflected further erosion of the positive tone that had supported European bonds, stocks and the euro since the start of the year. On Wednesday, a poor auction of Spanish debt reminded investors that the euro zone’s sovereign-debt crisis remains far from resolved despite an enormous injection of cash into the banking system by the European Central Bank.

ALSO IN ECONOMICS: The BLS Employment Situation for March 2012 will be released today at 8:30AM



Obama Signs Bill to Promote Start-Up Investments

President Obama, eager to promote his administration’s efforts to revive the job market on the eve of another politically significant employment report, signed a bill on Thursday that will roll back restrictions on the way start-up companies can raise money from individual investors.

Mr. Obama, surrounded by a bipartisan tableau of lawmakers and entrepreneurs, said the bill known as the JOBS Act, for Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, was a “potential game changer” for fledgling businesses in need of financing. Among other things, it would allow them to raise small sums from investors via the Internet.

“For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in,” Mr. Obama said in a ceremony in the Rose Garden, as Republican supporters of the law, including Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, looked on.



Obama seeks to defuse healthcare row with appeals court

U.S. courts have authority to decide whether President Barack Obama’s healthcare law is valid under the Constitution, his attorney general told a federal court on Thursday in a further bid to defuse a controversy Obama ignited earlier this week.

After Obama appeared to question the role of the courts in reviewing the two-year-old law, which seeks to expand healthcare coverage to 30 million-plus uninsured Americans, a conservative Texas judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the administration to explain itself.



Energy Department prepares to approve more green loans

The Energy Department said Thursday it expects to begin tentatively approving new taxpayer-backed loans for renewable energy projects in the coming months.

The announcement comes about seven months after Solyndra, the California solar firm that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the administration in 2009, went bankrupt, setting off a firestorm in Washington.



In D.C. schools, 59 percent of students get diploma on time

Less than 60 percent of D.C. high school students graduated on time in 2011, according to a new and more rigorous calculation of completion rates announced Thursday.

Figures released by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education show that 58.6 percent of students in the Class of 2011 obtained high school diplomas within four years. That’s a nearly 20 percent decline over the 73 percent rate reported for 2010.

The new numbers also revealed a widening gap between the city’s public charter schools and traditional public high schools in the ability to graduate students on time. Eight in 10 charter seniors received diplomas last year, compared with slightly more than half of those in traditional schools.



New Clashes Fuel U.N. Skepticism of Promises by Syria

Spasms of fighting convulsed parts of Syria on Thursday, with clashes reported only miles from the capital. The leader of the United Nations said the conflict was getting worse — contradicting the Syrian government’s assurances to a special envoy that it was complying with his cease-fire plan.

The United Nations Security Council, meanwhile, issued a statement requesting that the Syrian government comply with the plan, particularly its April 10 deadline for a military pullback from major cities. The statement reflects the deep doubts of many nations that President Bashar al-Assad intends to keep his word.

U.S. Efforts Aim to Spur Further Shift in Myanmar

The U.S. decision to begin lifting key sanctions on Myanmar following recent elections is meant to boost reformers in the country who face challenges from conservative factions resisting the rapid change, U.S. officials said.

A widening circle of military and civilian officials appears to be on board with recent changes in the long-shunned country, including the release of political prisoners and an easing of media and Internet restraints, said people familiar with developments in the capital, Naypyitaw.

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