Last Update on December 06, 2013 08:32 GMT
BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets were in a holding pattern today as investors await a U.S. jobs report that could solidify expectations about when the Federal Reserve will start reducing its expansive stimulus.
Belief that the Fed will decide to begin "tapering" its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases at its Dec. 18 meeting ratcheted up after the U.S. government reported that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.6 percent in the third quarter, its fastest pace since the first quarter of 2012.
A 23,000 fall in weekly U.S. jobless claims to 298,000 also added to the evidence that the U.S. economy is growing strongly and that the stimulus, which has kept interest rates low to spur recovery, will be reduced. Whether those expectations remain intact could hinge on Friday's official jobs report for November.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to near $97.50 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen.
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
Major economic reports scheduled for today
WASHINGTON -- The big market-moving news today is expected to be the government's release of employment data for November.
Also today, the Commerce Department will release October's personal income and spending numbers and the Federal Reserve will report consumer credit data for October.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FactSet survey for November suggests the employment results may be a signal that the job market is finally building a head of steam.
Economists in the survey are forecasting that employers added 180,000 jobs last month. That would follow October's robust gain of 204,000. And it would keep the average monthly gain for the past four months at around 200,000.
The unemployment rate is expected to remain above levels historically considered healthy. But a drop from 7.3 percent to 7.2 percent is forecast.
The Labor Department will release the November jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time Friday.
More jobs would follow other encouraging data reported in the midst of the crucial holiday shopping season. Growth is accelerating, corporate profits are rising and companies are laying off the fewest workers in six years.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles city attorney is suing Wells Fargo and Citigroup, alleging the companies engaged in mortgage discrimination that led to a wave of foreclosures in minority communities.
The federal lawsuits filed Thursday are the latest fallout from the 2008 housing bubble collapse.
They claim Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc. first refused to grant mortgages in minority neighborhoods -- a practice known as redlining -- then later targeted minority consumers for predatory loans.
The lawsuits claim that led to foreclosures that sent property values tumbling in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and forcing it to spend perhaps $1 billion to clean up and protect vacant properties.
Wells Fargo and Citigroup say they're committed to fair lending and call the suits baseless.
TOKYO (AP) -- World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says ensuring greater access to affordable health care is a crucial factor in alleviating poverty and promoting economic growth.
Kim announced Friday that the World Bank and World Health Organization aim by 2020 to reduce by half the number of people falling into poverty due to health care expenses.
He also aims to double access to affordable health care to 80 percent of the poor in developing countries.
Kim said that investing in universal health care in the early 1960s was a strong factor in Japan's rapid growth and that developing countries should make such programs a top priority.
At a conference on Universal Health Coverage in Tokyo he noted that improved public health also requires investments in education, welfare, transport, water and sanitation.
JPMORGAN PREPAID CARD HACKED
NEW YORK (AP) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. says about 465,000 users of a prepaid cash card may have had their personal information hacked.
The card, UCard, is used in corporate or government prepaid benefit programs, such as food stamps, unemployment benefits, or tax refunds. Corporations use UCard to pay workers who don't have checking accounts.
The hackers had access to the personal information from mid-July to mid-September. The bank says it found no evidence the information accessed was used improperly.
The breach does not affect banking customers who have credit or debit cards, or customers of the prepaid Chase Liquid card, according to the bank.
UNDATED (AP) -- J.C. Penney says the SEC is looking into its liquidity, debt and other financial matters.
The struggling retailer disclosed in a regulatory filing late Thursday that it received a letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission in October requesting information on its liquidity, cash position, debt and equity financing, as well as its offering of common stock announced in September.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said it is cooperating with the SEC and providing the requested information. A representative for the Plano, Texas, company could not be reached for further comment.
The SEC did not respond immediately to a request for further details.
Shares of the department store chain fell almost 3 percent in after-hours trading.
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration report says the Idaho Department of Agriculture detected abnormalities in yogurt at a Chobani facility two months before the company issued a recall.
The Times-News obtained the report under a Freedom of Information Act request.
More than 300 people reported getting sick after consuming Greek yogurt produced in Twin Falls that was reportedly contaminated by a mold associated with dairy products.
The FDA report says a state lab technician spotted visible defects and a yeast-like growth in samples pulled from the factory line, and additional sampling by the company detected a mold growth.
The state denies the FDA's claim. Agriculture Department spokeswoman Pamela Juker says state regulators never detected the yeast-like substance during the routine inspection in July.
Chobani officials say the company's goal is to ensure the Idaho facility is a leader in size, cleanliness, quality and safety.