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Other News: Economic Reports Yield Mixed Results

May 28, 2009 at 6:05 PM EDT
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In other news, the Labor Department reported that jobless claims fell, and orders for high-cost factory goods and new home sales rose in April.

TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: In other news today, a new batch of reports on the economy yielded mixed results. The Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment compensation fell last week to 623,000, but the total number of Americans on benefits neared 6.8 million, the most on record going back to 1967.

The government also said that orders for high-cost factory goods rose in April, and so did new home sales. But median home prices were down almost 15 percent from a year ago.

Wall Street had a good day, as it followed the price of oil higher. In New York trading, crude oil topped $65 per barrel, as U.S. supplies fell. That’s the highest price in six months.

In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 103 points to close above 8,403. The Nasdaq rose more than 20 points to close above 1,751.

The tension surrounding North Korea escalated again today in the wake of its nuclear test this week. South Korean and U.S. forces went on high alert. That’s after North Korea, led by Kim Jong-il, renounced the truce that ended the Korean War in 1953.

We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News.

JOHN RAY: Along the last front line of the Cold War, the temperature dropped another notch today. In the South, we saw troops on the move, with orders to keep a closer watch than ever on their neighbors to the North.

But no amount of vigilance will reveal this man’s next move. The self-styled dear leader has tested missiles and nuclear weapons and dares the world to respond.

Close to the 38th Parallel, where the Korean War ended half a century ago, we found soldiers of the South on high alert.

Beyond these barricades, along this desolate stretch of highway, is the Demilitarized Zone. Despite its name, it’s the most heavily armed border in the world. And tensions here have rarely been higher than they are now.

North Korean television shows stirring images of its own military, and they’ve torn up their truce with the South.

What are your emotions when you come here?

“I feel very sad when I remember brothers fighting brothers,” this old soldier tells me.

We’re at the Freedom Bridge, where prisoners were exchanged at the end of the last conflict. There has been no gunfire since, but in a way we’re still at war, says this Song Suk-wu.

But pity for North Korea is a more common sentiment than fear. “I feel really, really sorry for them,” says student Kim Yang Suk. “There are people starving in the North, even children, too.”

Here, South Koreans catch a glimpse of their neighbors, wary of the North’s brinkmanship, but it’s just down this road and too close to dismiss as mere bluff.

JUDY WOODRUFF: At the United Nations, members of the Security Council worked on a draft resolution to condemn North Korea. It called for member states to enforce existing sanctions. There was no mention of new sanctions.

In Afghanistan, U.S. coalition troops attacked a suspected training camp for foreign fighters and killed 34. The target was in the eastern province of Paktika near the Pakistan border. Afghan officials said that the dead included 22 Arabs and Pakistanis.

To the south, a NATO soldier died in a roadside bombing. There was no immediate word on his nationality.

A major drug-maker agreed today to settle claims that it cheated Medicaid. Aventis Pharmaceutical will pay nearly $100 million dollars, but it stopped short of admitting wrongdoing. Federal prosecutors alleged that, from 1995 to 2000, Aventis overcharged Medicaid for its nasal sprays.