Money in a Minute: Headlines for April 8, 2011

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In today's news: An aftershock in Japan is felt in U.S. markets, a looming government shutdown won't save money, Americans aren't dropping their shopping, unemployment fell yet again, and the FCC wants you to roam on your phone.

BUDGET CRISIS: The price of a shutdown

Despite working until 3 AM, Congressional leaders still haven’t agreed on a federal budget. That leaves less than 24 hours before the government officially shuts down.  Last minute negotiations are set to continue this morning.  As for the cost of a shutdown to American taxpayers? “The government actually has to spend money in order to complete an orderly shutdown,” CNN reports. “And the 800,000 or so workers who might be furloughed? In every previous government shutdown, Congress has authorized back pay for them as well, even for days they didn’t work.”

JAPAN: U.S. stocks down, yen up on Tokyo quake

One of the strongest aftershocks since Japan’s March 11 earthquake rippled through U.S. markets yesterday. “Stocks fell, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average down from an almost three-year high,” Bloomberg reported. “Equities turned lower after a magnitude-7.1 aftershock.”

SHOPPING: Most retailers report sales were better than expected in March

High gas prices and winter storms surprisingly didn’t stop shoppers last month. “A broad range of stores, from Costco to Victoria’s Secret parent company Limited Brands, reported revenue gains that handily beat Wall Street expectations,” USA Today reports. “Many retailers were expected to report declines.”

JOBS: Jobless claims drop more than expected

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week, another good sign that the economy may be improving. “The number of people seeking benefits dropped 10,000 to 382,000 in the week ending April 2,” MSNBC reports. “That’s the third drop in four weeks.”

TECH: FCC requires national data roaming for all

The Federal Communications Commission wants smartphone users to be able to access the Internet from, well, everywhere. A new FCC policy “requires all wireless carriers to let customers of competing carriers roam on their mobile data networks.” CNN reports. “The FCC said its order was necessary because the wireless giants have, in many cases, outright refused to negotiate roaming agreements.”

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