Sun, Aug 14, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Obama, CEOs talk markets, global economy woes

Reuters, Washington

Global financial upheaval was on the agenda on Friday when US President Barack Obama met with top executives from the US business community, the White House said.

Chief executives from Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo & Co, US Bank, Xerox Corp, BlackRock Inc, Silver Lake Partners, American Express and US Steel all met with Obama to discuss the economy and the president’s plans to create jobs.

Obama held his latest in a series of talks with big business against the backdrop of a eurozone debt crisis that has hit financial markets worldwide, adding to investor anxiety in the aftermath of the US’ credit downgrade.

Before Friday’s session, which included major players from the financial sector, the White House said market turmoil and economic troubles around the world would be among the issues discussed, along with the US economy and job creation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest denied the meeting was called in reaction to market and global concerns, but said: “They’ll certainly talk about these issues, about the market reaction here.”

The meeting came at the end of a volatile week. US stocks rose on Friday as mildly upbeat retail sales data offset a closely watched barometer showing US consumer sentiment at its lowest point in more than three decades.

European stock markets also gained despite continued concern about French banks’ exposure to European debt woes.

Critics have said that Obama has failed to reassure people in the US as markets whipsawed last week, in one of the most dramatic periods in the stock market since he took office amid the financial crisis in January 2009.

He said on Thursday that Europe’s debt troubles were among the global challenges weighing on the struggling US recovery, but the White House said the administration had confidence in European leaders’ ability to handle the situation.

Obama’s hopes for re-election next year will likely hinge on his success in lowering unemployment, currently pinned above 9 percent, boosting sluggish growth and restoring confidence lost from the Standard & Poor’s downgrade and fractious debt talks.

White House meetings with executives have become almost routine as Obama has courted business leaders, while seeking to cast himself as more of a centrist.

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