NY mulls minimum wage hike — State grant recipient sued — Incomes rise 0.5% in Dec.

Good Monday morning! Inside Track is back after a bit of a hiatus and looking leaner: we’re going to try to keep our daily posts under 300 words so you can get the news and get on with your day.

LEADING OFF: NY Assembly Democrats, led by Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), are pushing to raise the state’s minimum wage 17 percent, from $7.25 to $8.50. Thus far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reserved comment, but is expected to support such a measure.

PERSONAL INCOME UP: Income rose 0.5% in December, the Commerce Department reported today, the strongest growth in nine months, while consumer spending was unchanged from November to December.

SAN-MAR SUED: San-Mar Laboratories Inc., based in Elmsford, is being sued by a supplier after receiving a $5 million state grant last fall. See this story and more Westchester business news at Westfair Online.

QUICK HITS: Florida holds its Republican presidential primary tomorrow, where Mitt Romney has opened a double-digit lead in the polls over Newt Gingrich; the Federal Reserve last week said it would extend its commitment to keep rates low through 2014, underscoring the continued fragility of the U.S. economy; a federal judge last week set June 26 as New York’s primary date; the Senate is likely to vote on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s insider trading bill this week.

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Bernanke masters art of fueling speculation while revealing absolutely nothing

“The Federal Reserve has a range of tools that could be used to provide additional monetary stimulus.”

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke. Markets, apparently, were listening. As of 12:15 pm, both the Dow and the S&P 500 were up at least 1.39% on the day after opening in the red.

In more “upbeat” news (please note the muted sarcasm here), Bernanke urged that while the recovery “may take some time,” the U.S. economy can “reasonably expect” to see a return to economic growth rates and employment levels that were last seen prior to 2007.

Now, my apologies, but it is time to come back down to Earth.

Consumer confidence for August in the U.S. fell to a 55.7 mark in the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan monthly index, down from a 63.7 mark in July.

Also announced this morning, the U.S. economy only grew at a 1% rate in the second quarter of 2011, down from initial estimates that put GDP growth at 1.3%. In a recap, the economy grew at a 0.4% rate in the first quarter, and a 1% rate in the second quarter. That, folks, means that the U.S. economy averaged below 1% growth in the first half of this year.