In our news wrap Thursday, the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate near zero, as was expected. Jerome Powell, chair of the Fed, spoke after a two-day policy meeting about the “extraordinarily uncertain” economic outlook. Also, the remains of Hurricane Eta dumped rain across Central America for a third day, hitting Honduras especially hard. The storm’s death toll rose to 19.
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In the day's other news: Another 751,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, as the pandemic forced more job cuts.
That number was down slightly from the week before, but still high. Overall, the economy has regained about half of the 22 million jobs that were wiped out last spring. But the pace of new hiring has slowed markedly since June.
As expected, the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate near zero today, and indicated it could do more to spark the economy.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke after a two-day policy meeting.
The outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on the success of efforts to keep the virus in check.
A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it's safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.
Powell and other Fed officials have urged the Congress to pass another stimulus package.
On Wall Street, the post-election rally kept going, investors counting on a divided Congress, with major indexes gaining 2 to 2.5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 542 points to close at 28390. The Nasdaq rose 300 points, and the S&P 500 added 67.
Across Central America, the remains of Hurricane Eta kept dumping rain and flooding homes for a third day. At least 50 in Guatemala alone have died. Honduras was also hard-hit, with residents trudging through waist-high water. Some used boats to move pets and loved ones down flooded streets. The storm could move into the Gulf of Mexico early next week.
The president of Kosovo resigned today to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at a special international court. Hashim Thaci led ethnic Albanian guerrillas during Kosovo's war for independence from Serbia in the late 1990s. He has repeatedly denied the charges.
Hashim Thaci (through translator):
As I promised, I would not allow the president of the republic of Kosovo to go to court. That is why, to protect the integrity of the presidency of Kosovo, of the Kosovar people and respecting the partnership with the international community, I am resigning from the post of president.
Thaci is one of 10 former rebel leaders indicted for murder, forced disappearances and torture during the Kosovo war in 1998 and '99.
And a conflict is escalating between the government of Ethiopia and an opposition region. Leaders in Tigray charged today that Ethiopian fighter jets attacked their regional capital. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accused Tigray of attacking a military base. That sparked fears of a new war, just a year after Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending a war with neighboring Eritrea.