Contagion! There are fresh worries about the spread of Europe’s debt crisis. Months ago, markets were most jittery about Greece, and its second bailout. Now bigger economies are facing rising interest rates, with bond investors running scared. Spain’s bond auction this morning involved 10 year bonds. The interest rate of nearly 7 percent was a 14-year high. The rate of 6.97 percent compared with 5.43 percent in the last auction Oct. 20.
Stock market futures were slightly higher this morning. Shortly before the close of trading Wednesday, the Dow Jones Index and other averages dropped sharply after Fitch ratings warned about the risk to U.S. banks from Europe’s debt problems. Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs were all down more than 3.5 percent. European banks are facing funding stress, says The Wall Street Journal,
Gas prices have been falling in recent weeks, but motorists across the country will pay more to fill up during the busy Thanksgiving holiday than they did last year. Price tracker GasBuddy.com says the average cost is about 50 cents a gallon up in November 2010. Regular gas averages $3.40 a gallon, compared with nearly $4 in July. Rising U.S. oil production may keep pump prices from rising much higher, despite the recent increase in West Texas crude prices on global markets.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu may face tough questions today from House Republicans. They are investigating the $528 million federal loan received by solar panel maker Solyndra before it went bankrupt, laying off its 1,100 workers.