Sept. 26 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street declines as Europe worries strike again; Oil crumbles to close below $90; U.S. CEO attitudes revisit post-recession slump; European stocks drop as violent protests return. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Europe is once again a worry for Wall Street with anti-austerity protests in Spain and Greece. The benchmark S&P 500 index is down six out of the last seven sessions. Oil also tumbled, closing below $90 a barrel for the first time since early August. Another night of violent protest in the streets of Madrid. Sources say there will be a freeze on civil wages next year and extension of a hiring freeze. A government spokeswoman would not confirm. But a day after speaking at the United Nations, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told another New York audience all parts of Spanish society will need to make sacrifices. And violence erupted in the streets of Athens, Greece earlier in the day in a major clash. Looming spending cuts are not going down well with the populace there either. Slower demand from Europe is one reason pessimism among U.S. CEOs has fallen to lows not seen since the end of the last recession. A survey by the Business Roundtable shows more corporate leaders are planning to cut jobs over the next six months compared to previous findings. U.S. tax policies and regulations were also blamed for declining confidence. Farooq Kathwari is a CEO. He runs Ethan Allen Interiors. SOUNDBITE: FAROOQ KATHWARI, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ETHAN ALLAN INTERIORS (ENGLISH) SAYING. "Business conditions are tough. There is no question about it. Our competitive position has been diluted with all that has taken place in the rest of the world. However, on the other hand, businesses have more cash, they are more liquid, they have an opportunity to invest." In other data: the median home price for a new U.S. single-family home surged to a five-year high in August but sales fell month-to-month. The tone, however, set by Europe, where stocks suffered their biggest decline in two months. Conway Gittens, Reuters