5 Things to Know on Thursday

Five things you should know this morning in the world of finance and business:

1. Sandy’s Winners and Losers

A few business winners and losers from Hurricane Sandy may already be apparent – and obvious. Two giant home-improvement chains are doing better; two insurance providers are not. After the stock exchanges re-opened on Halloween, Lowe’s stock enjoyed a 4.5 percent increase and Home Depot’s went up 4.9 percent. The biggest winner? Maybe Generac Holdings, a maker of backup power generators, which posted a 22.2 percent gain.

Meanwhile, insurance companies Allstate and The Travelers Cos. both saw dips of around 2 percent during the trading day.

2. Governors Call for Lower Deductibles in Sandy’s Wake

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined by Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Chris Christie of New Jersey in assuring homeowners that they would not have to pay the higher deductible that insurance companies usually require for hurricane losses when they submit their claims for wind and storm damage due to Sandy.

With Sandy’s destruction expected to cost insurance companies anywhere between $7 to 15 billion, it remains to be seen whether they will challenge the three states’ chief executives’ pronouncements.

Something to watch: While considered a hurricane for much of its trip up the Atlantic, it was reclassified as a “post tropical storm” by the National Weather Service by the time Sandy made landfall.

3. User Friendly Banks

Several big banks are attempting to do their part to ease the burden on Hurricane Sandy’s victims. Wells Fargo, Citi, TD Bank, and Bank of America are among the banks waiving or refunding out-of-network ATM fees, and forgiving late fees on credit card bills, and automobile and student loans for their customers impacted by the storm.

In addition, both BOA and Wells Fargo are rolling out mobile ATMs to various locations in New York, and at some branches, customers are charging their cell phones using bank electricity – no fee applied.

4. Job Numbers Should be Slightly Better

New data is continuing to demonstrate a slow but steady improvement in the labor market. The federal government’s employment report is due out on Friday and is expected to show an increase of 125,000 non-farm jobs added in October. Automatic Data Processing, the large payroll processor, said in its report that private employers added 158,000 workers last month.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted total of 363,000.

5. Do You Want to Be A Trucker?

America’s trucking industry will need more than 115,000 new drivers a year from now until 2016 to keep up with growth, according to a report from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics. The current trend of new trained long-haul drivers is estimated to reach only 10 percent of total demand, a shortage that could balloon to 600,000 drivers within four years.

The median yearly wage for a tractor-trailer driver is $37,770, which may suggest trucking to be a hard sell for younger workers who don’t think the money’s good enough for spending that many hours on the road. And then there’s the road itself. Turnover in the trucking industry could not be higher than it already is: 100 percent.

 

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at bfay@debt.org.

Truck driver

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