The U.S. job market strengthened in July, a welcome piece of good news that sharply contrasted with Thursday's sell-off on Wall Street and readings pointing toward an economic slowdown.
Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, well above the 46,000 jobs added in June, the government reported Friday. After a shockingly weak jobs number the previous month and a spate of other negative economic readings that followed, many economists had been bracing for the worst from Friday's report.
Trading in U.S. stock futures, which point to the direction stocks will take when regular trading begins at 9:30 a.m., surged after the report was released.FULL STORY
Finally, some better news about the job market: the number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 for the first time since early April.
There were 398,000 initial unemployment claims filed in the week ended July 23, the Labor Department said Thursday. That marks the first time since April 2, that the weekly initial claims number has fallen below 400,000, a level typically associated with payroll growth and a lower unemployment rate.
It also beats the 415,000 claims economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected, and was 24,000 lower than the previous week.
FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
Lloyds Banking Group plc, the largest retail bank in the United Kingdom, plans to eliminate 15,000 jobs and reduce its international footprint by half, the company announced Thursday.
Under new CEO AntĂłnio Horta-OsĂłrio, Lloyds is launching a plan to focus on its UK business, reduce middle management and simplify operations by the end of 2014, according to a strategic review issued Thursday.
"We will create a more agile (organization) through further delayering our management structure, (centralizing) control functions, and creating a simpler legal structure," the document reads.Â "Our focus will be on reduction in middle management, bringing our top team closer to the customers and front-line staff."
Lloyds says it serves 30 million customers through its 14 brands, including Lloyds TSB, Halifax Bank, Bank of Scotland, Cheltenham & Gloucester, and St. James's Place Bank.
Shares in the company were up 8% Thursday on the London Stock Exchange.
The House considers future U.S. action in Libya, while President Obama pitches the U.S. economy in Pennsylvania.Â Watch CNN.com Live for the latest on these developing stories.
Today's programming highlights...
9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.
Seven people who have declared or are considering a run for president next year will gather at a New Hampshire college tonight to debate the issue.Â CNN.com Live will be there for all the action.
Today's programming highlights...
9:00 am ET - Casey AnthonyÂ trial - Testimony continues in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.
[Updated at 9:34 a.m.]Â Stocks sell off sharply at the open following a dismal monthly jobs report. The Dow sunk 130 points, the Nasdaq slid 1.2%, and the S&P 500 was off 1%.
[Posted at 8:34 a.m.] In yet another alarm bell of a weakening U.S. economy, the job market took a disappointing turn in May.
The economy gained a mere 54,000 jobs in the month, a significant slowdown from 232,000 jobs added to payrolls in April, the government reported Friday.
The report was a major disappointment to economists who were expecting a gain of 170,000 jobs, according to a CNNMoney survey. Most believe the economy needs to add about 150,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth.
Businesses added 83,000 jobs in May, well short of economists' forecast of a gain of 190,000 jobs for the private sector. It was the weakest level of business hiring in 11 months and comparable to the disappointing report by payroll processing firm ADP earlier this week that estimated a gain of only 38,000 private sector jobs.FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
Three things you need to know today:
National Doughnut Day: Friday is the day America celebrates the doughnut.
National Doughnut Day originated with the The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 as a salute to the women who served doughnuts to U.S. soldiers during World War I.
The Salvation Army's "doughnut lassies" continued that service during World War II and cemented the doughnut's place in the American diet. If you want to try to duplicate the doughnut lassies' work in your kitchen today, The Salvation Army is providing their original recipe.
If you're not in the mood to celebrate National Doughnut Day in the kitchen, try heading down to your local Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts.
Krispy Kreme is offering a free doughnut to all customers at participating locations.
At participating Dunkin' Donuts, customers will get a free doughnut with the purchase of a beverage.
Obama and autos: President Barack Obama heads to Toledo, Ohio, on Friday where he'll visit Chrysler's Jeep Wrangler assembly plant.
Obama will use the Toledo visit to emphasize why the government bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors were successful, CNN affiliate WTVG in Toledo reports.
Chrysler announced recently that it will repay government bailout loans six years ahead of schedule.
Among those expected to be in attendance for Obama's visit is Jeep assembly line worker James Fayson, according to a Toledo Blade report.
Fayson, 36, will appear in Obama 2012 campaign commercials explaining how the bailout allowed him to return to work after being laid off in 2009, the Blade reported.
Shaq's announcement: Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal will formally announce his retirement from basketball Friday during a news conference at his Florida home.
O'Neal first said Wednesday afternoon that he was going to hang up his jersey. The 39-year-old posted a link to a video on his Twitter account.
InÂ a brief message he said: "We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I want toÂ thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first. I'm about toÂ retire. Love you. Talk to you soon."
O'Neal has been dogged by injuries in the latter stages of his career and played only 37 games for the Boston Celtics this season after struggling with an Achilles tendon problem.
He returned for two playoff games against the Miami Heat but managed just 12 minutes and he told an ESPN reporter that he didn't want to let Celtics fans down.
O'Neal won three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers after forming a devastating partnership with Kobe Bryant, and added a fourth in 2006 with the Miami Heat.
With 28,596 points, O'Neal is fifth on the all-time NBA scoring list and is second only to Michael Jordan on the all-time list of NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards.
The number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits dropped sharply for the second straight week.
In the week ended May 14, 409,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday.FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
Ignore the unemployment rate, and ignore anything you read that highlights the fact that it increased from 8.8% in March to 9% in April.Â It doesn't matter.Â It's an irrelevant number.Â There are so many long-term unemployed in this country, that the unemployment rate would actually be much higher if all of them were counted– more like 16% or 17%.
In fact, this uptick to 9% actually suggests more people are returning to the work force, because people who have given up looking for work are not counted in the official unemployment rate. 113,000 people who weren't counted as unemployed in March jumped back into the labor force in April.
The only number that matters is the number of jobs created - 244K in April; a LOT more than even the most optimistic economists were predicting, and within striking distance of the number (300k) of the jobs the economy needs to be creating per month to get back down to the 5% unemployment rate we had before the recession.
We also saw the jobs-created numbers for February and March revised higher. April's gains aren't some kind of blip– they are spread across a broad range of industries: retail, business and professional services, health care, manufacturing. The only major sector that saw job declines was the government, and that's a trend we've been seeing for a while as states and local governments cut workers amid budget struggles.
Bottom line: April's jobs report is a good, solid one. The job gains still may not be enough to lower the unemployment rate, especially as we see more people try to find jobs. But it shows the economy is moving in the right direction, and hiring is picking up steam.
The jobs recovery picked up speed in April, as business payrolls swelled and the unemployment rate rose as more people returned to the workforce.
The economy added 244,000 jobs in the month, the Labor Department reported Friday. That's up from the 235,000 jobs gained in March. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney were expecting a slight slowdown to a gain of just 185,000 jobs.
Job growth has been strong since the beginning of the year, with 768,000 jobs added since January. And Friday's report also showed that 46,000 more jobs were added in February and March than previously thought.FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on reaction and fallout to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Today's programming highlights...
9:30 am ET - Employment numbers hearing - We will learn this morning what April's employment numbers are.Â The Joint Economic Committee will meet to discuss those numbers and the country's jobs situation.
50,000 jobs: McDonald's is looking to hire as many as 50,000 people today as part of its National Hiring Day promotion.
Jobs are available at both the corporate and restaurant levels. Job-seekers can go to the company's website or check at local franchises to find positions.
"I'm hopeful to bring in at least a dozen [new employees] if not more," said Robert Hughes, owner of four McDonald's franchises in eastern Pennsylvania, told CNN affiliate WFMZ. "Sales across the country and then regionally are doing so well that we have that need to be hiring more people."
In the Houston, Texas, area, McDonald's is looking to add 1,500 employees, CNN affiliate KHOU reports.
"At McDonalds, we believe our employees do incredible things. If you have a desire for a career, and a passion for quality, you should see what McDonaldâ€™s offers," Kimberly Kelley Elizondo, a McDonaldâ€™s owner-operator in the Houston area told KHOU.
The burger chain has more than 32,000 restaurants and 1.7 million employees worldwide.
Severe weather: Another round of severe storms on Tuesday could strike Oklahoma, one of the states hit by aÂ wave of violent weather last week, forecasters say.
CNN's Weather Center in Atlanta described the risk of severe weather as moderate. This time the forecast for severe weather is focused on the Midwest instead of the South, where 45 people perished in a swath of extreme storms, including tornadoes, last week.
The areas facing a moderate risk of tornadoes and high winds on Tuesday extends from the Midwest to the Ohio River Valley.Â Also included are the cities of Tulsa, St. Louis and Indianapolis.
The threat of heavy storms is predicted to diminish in those areas on Wednesday morning, but the Northeast could experience isolated outbreaks of severe storms later in the day.
Sheen lawsuit: Charlie Sheen's $100 million lawsuit against his former employer is scheduled to come to a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday.
But for those looking for the headline-grabbing actor, Sheen is expected to miss the hearing.Â His "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour has him in Washington D.C. Tuesday night.
The lawsuit was filed in March and names Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre, the creator of "Two and a Half Men." Sheen is seeking punitive damages and recovery of unpaid wages in the lawsuit that alleges intentional interference with contractual relations and breach of contract, among other contentions.
In addition to Sheen, 9th Step Productions - a corporation formed by Sheen to contract out his acting services on the series - also is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Just when things look hopeless, sometimes an unexpected breakthrough happens.
Just ask David and Beth Loomis of Columbus, Ohio.
David Loomis lost his job last year, and his unemployment benefits were about to expire. But while Beth Loomis was walking their dog Tuesday morning, she found a dollar and thought, "I guess this might be our lucky day," she told CNN affiliate WBNS.
Ohio Lottery officials had invited the couple to come to lottery headquarters to pick up a hat and cup consolation prize from a 2010 drawing.
What they didn't tell the Loomises was that there also was a $150,000 check waiting for them from a lottery ticket David Loomis had bought last year.
When the surprise check was presented, David Loomis gaped at his wife, then spun his chair halfway around, speechless. Then both husband and wife wept.
They plan to use the money to pay off bills and perhaps make a down payment on a house, Beth Loomis told WBNS.
Winter storm: It's no April Fool's Day joke - parts of the Northeast could get more than a foot of snow Friday as a nor'easter roars into the region.
The National Weather service has issued winter storm warnings for areas of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. As much as 14 inches of heavy, wet snow is possible in some areas, forecasters say.
Snow will stick to trees and power lines and,Â with wind gusts of up to 30 mph, makes at least some power outages likely, the weather service said.
Island prison closes: McNeil Island Corrections Center in Washington state, the last island prison in the United States, closes on Friday.
The prison, which once housed more than 1,200 inmates, has been in use for more than a century, but its island location makes maintaining too costly, officials said.
Statue honors Tucson girl: A statue of an angel in honor of the youngest victim of January's mass shooting will be unveiled in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday.
Christina Green was born on September 11, 2001, and died on January 8 in the Tucson shooting rampage, which left six dead and 13 wounded, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The 9-foot, 11-inch statue incorporates steel from the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The rocks at the base are from the crash site of Flight 93. The statue will live at the Little League field where Christina played baseball.
Jobs report: The Labor Department on Friday releases its monthly jobs report for March. A CNNMoney survey of 18 economists forecasts an addition of 180,000 jobs in March, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.9%.
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported 388,000 initial jobless claims were filed last week, CNNMoney reported.
The Wisconsin state AssemblyÂ on Thursday afternoonÂ passed a controversial bill that curtails most state workersâ€™ collectiveÂ bargaining rights, one day after state Senate Republicans used a technical procedure to get around the intentional absence of 14 Democrats and pass the measure in their chamber.
Throngs of people upsetÂ at the developmentsÂ have been protesting on the grounds of the Capitol throughout the day.
The bill will reach Gov. Scott Walker's desk for final approval. The bill would, among other things, allow public workers to collectivelyÂ negotiate wages only and bar unions from taking dues from public workersâ€™ checks. Walker has argued the bill is necessary to help the state correct its deficits and avoid massive layoffs and property tax hikes.
Here is a running account of some of the latest developments:
5:02 p.m. ET: Detail on the vote: The Assembly passed the measure 53-42.
4:47Â p.m. ET: The Assembly has passed the bill.
4:41Â p.m. ET: The Assembly appears to be voting.
4:33Â p.m. ET: Still debating the bill, Democrats in the state AssemblyÂ are arguing that the Senate's move to pass the measure yesterday was illegal in part because the bill still addresses fiscal matters.
Senate Republicans, before passing the measure yesterday, stripped the bill of appropriations so that they could vote for the bill without a quorum. This way, they could vote without the presence of the 14 Democrats who fled the state.
Assembly Democrats, however, are arguing that theÂ measure still has changes in appropriations, inclduing a change in appropriations for a tax credit.Â
4:22Â p.m. ET: Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has received two death threats, Fitzgerald spokesman Andrew Welhouse said. Both threats were e-mailed from the same address,Â according toÂ Welhouse.
4:04Â p.m. ET: Although Democratic state Sen. Jim Holperin apparently is returning to Wisconsin, one of his fellow Democrats in the state Senate, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, says she and other Senate Democrats are staying in Illinois. She says the matter of whether the Wisconsin Senate legally passed the measure last not hasn't been settled.
She said that because the legality of the Senate's move last night still has to be determined, she and other Senate Democrats still will stay away from Wisconsin because they don't want to be forced to appear in the Senate to deal with the measure.
VinehoutÂ told CNN's Brooke Baldwin thatÂ she doesn't know where Holperin is, but she said that if he is on his way back to Wisconsin, he doesn't have the most current information. She added that the courts will need to decide whether yesterday's "legislative trickery" by Senate Republicans was legal.
Protesters have been converging on the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, since mid-February to protest the governorâ€™s budget bill. Their voices are angry, energetic, accusatory.
The bill, which proponents say reels in spending but critics say is an overt attempt at union-busting, prompted 14 Democratic state senators to leave the state so they wouldnâ€™t be forced to vote on the bill.
Despite reports of progress in the negotiations, there are still several bones of contention. The original bill by Gov. Scott Walker requires all public workers but police officers and firefighters to increase contributions to their pension and health insurance, and it prohibits unions from collecting dues.
It also restricts the unionsâ€™ collective bargaining power, caps wages and requires annual votes for unions to remain certified, which critics say would be costly.
The crowds have thinned since the protests first began, but many remain adamant that Walkerâ€™s bill must be defeated. Here is what some of them are saying:
The 58-year-old from Madison said heâ€™s worn out from walking 5 or 6 miles a day during the last 12 days of the protests.
He accuses the statehouse of â€śbully politicsâ€ť and said he doesnâ€™t appreciate â€śthe way theyâ€™re trying to change things, ram things down our throat without a chance of really seeing the bill.â€ť
Charlie Sheen sacked - It probably didnâ€™t surprise anyone but Charlie Sheen to learn that the actor was canned from â€śTwo and a Half Menâ€ť on Monday. The firing comes after a series of bizarre public appearances that included attacks on the showâ€™s creator. Weâ€™ve been waiting on a response, but the last we heard â€“ via Twitter â€“ was that the self-professed warlock was seeking a winning intern â€świth #TigerBlood.â€ť