TONITE: Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think


ABC NEWS: New home starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000 from a downwardly revised level of 771,000 in October, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That is a drop of 18.9 percent, the steepest since March 1984. The total is far below the 740,000 pace that Wall Street economists expected. MORE

CBS NEWS: U.S. consumer prices in November plunged by the largest amount on records going back 61 years as energy costs posted nearly double the decline of the previous month. The Labor Department reported Tuesday that consumer prices fell 1.7 percent in November, surpassing the previous record decline of 1 percent set in October. The drop was the largest one-month decline dating to February 1947. The huge decreases reflect the severe recession gripping the country and raise the pressure for the Federal Reserve to act decisively to guard against a debilitating bout of deflation. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: The Federal Reserve entered a new era on Tuesday, setting its benchmark interest rate so low that it will have to reach for new and untested tools in fighting both the recession and downward pressure on consumer prices. Going further than analysts anticipated, the central bank cut its target for the overnight federal funds rate to a range of 0 to 0.25 percent, a record low, virtually bringing the United States to the zero-rate policies that Japan used for six years in its own fight against deflation. The rate had previously been 1 percent, and a cut of a half-point had been widely expected. MORE

BLOOMBERG: Cadbury Plc, the world’s largest candy maker, said sales growth is slowing in North America as retailers reduce stockpiles of chocolate bars and gum. Revenue in the region is rising by a “mid single-digit” percentage in the fourth quarter, down from “near double-digit growth” in the last four to five years as the economy weakens, Chief Executive Officer Todd Stitzer told journalists on a conference call today. MORE

CBS NEWS: Things really are bad all over — and they had gone bad even before the housing and finance industries crashed and sent the economy into a tailspin. The latest data shows that throughout the first half of the decade, the slumping economy touched nearly every community in the country. Incomes dropped while poverty and unemployment rose in the vast majority of the nation’s cities and towns. The numbers weren’t as bad in other parts of country, as in the Midwest, but no region was spared, with incomes dropping as home prices escalated. The result: an unsustainable housing market that ultimately fueled the current economic crisis. MORE

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