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Associated Press

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 4:02 AM

WALL STREET-CLOSE

Stocks falter with no signs of progress on budget

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks finished the Tuesday trading session lower on Wall Street, amid few signs of progress on the "fiscal cliff".

The Dow lost 89 points to end at 12,878 Tuesday. The S&P was down 7 points to 1,399 and the Nasdaq composite fell nine points to 2,968.

Falling stocks outnumbered rising ones by a small margin on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was lower than the recent average at 3.3 billion shares.

WORLD MARKETS

Asia stocks fall as US budget talks stall

BANGKOK (AP) — Lack of progress in negotiations for a deal to avoid a U.S. budget crisis before a January deadline sent Asian stock markets lower today.

President Barack Obama and U.S. lawmakers have until Jan. 1 to reach a deal to trim the country's unwieldy deficit. Otherwise, a series of automatic tax increases and sharp spending cuts will take effect that could drag the world's No. 1 economy into recession.

A high-ranking member of the U.S. Senate unnerved investors and sent Wall Street lower on Tuesday after expressing frustration over the budget impasse and the looming "fiscal cliff."

Benchmark crude oil inched up and remains above $87 per barrel. The dollar gained against the euro but fell against the yen.

ECONOMY-DAY AHEAD

New homes, Beige Book due

WASHINGTON (AP) — On the economic calendar for today, the Commerce Department releases new home sales for October. The Federal Reserve has the Beige Book survey, prepared for the central bank's next policy-setting session.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

ShopperTrak: Stores have a solid start to holidays

NEW YORK (AP) — A firm that analyzes customer traffic says stores saw a solid increase in sales for the four-day start to the holiday season, as heavy Thanksgiving shopping offset a drop in Black Friday sales.

Chicago-based-ShopperTrak said late Tuesday that foot traffic was up 8.2 percent for the four-day weekend, starting with Thanksgiving, while total sales rose 2.7 percent to $22 billion, compared with the same period a year ago. The sales pace is higher than the 1.7 percent seen last year.

This year retailers had their earliest start ever to the holiday shopping season, as major stores including Target Corp. and Sears opened on Thanksgiving evening.

ShopperTrak counts foot traffic and its own proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the U.S.

CREDIT CARD FEES-SETTLEMENT

Retailers appeal $7.2B credit card fee settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) — Several retail groups are appealing a $7.2 billion court decision approved earlier this month that was designed to settle allegations of fee-fixing against major credit card companies.

Visa, MasterCard and other card companies agreed in July to settle a lawsuit brought by retailers who claimed card issuers conspired to fix the fees they charge stores for accepting credit cards. Earlier this month a New York judge gave preliminary approval to the agreement.

On Tuesday 10 retail groups filed an appeal of the decision in U.S. district court for the Eastern District of New York. The groups include the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Restaurant Association and eight others.

Retailers have complained that a provision barring retailers from filing future lawsuits over swipe fees is too broad.

CHINA-CURRENCY

US declines to label China a currency manipulator

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has declined to label China a currency manipulator, noting that it's let its currency rise nearly 10 percent in value against the dollar since June 2010.

The administration says the Chinese yuan remains "significantly undervalued" and is urging China to make further progress. U.S. manufacturers contend that China is manipulating its currency to gain trade advantages. A weaker yuan makes Chinese goods cheaper for American consumers and U.S. goods more expensive in China.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had vowed during the campaign to brand China a currency manipulator if he won the White House.

The Obama administration has argued that a condemnation of China would risk retaliation that would hurt American exporters.

CANADA-BOMBARDIER DEAL

Bombardier in deal with VistaJet for $7.8 billion

TORONTO (AP) — Bombardier says it has made the biggest sale of business aircraft in its history, potentially worth up to $7.8 billion if all options are exercised. It is the world's third-largest maker of civilian commercial aircraft.

VistaJet, a private European company that provides luxury chartered flights, placed firm orders for 56 Bombardier Global jets valued at $3.1 billion and acquired options for a further 86 Global jets.

VistaJet chairman Thomas Flehr said the purchase is part of VistaJet's goal of making business aviation more accessible to emerging markets. The company operates a fleet of Bombardier aircraft based in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and West Africa.

Deliveries will begin in 2014.

MOTORCYCLE CRASHES

Motorcycle deaths, injuries cost $16 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new government report says direct costs from deaths and injuries due to motorcycle crashes were $16 billion in 2010, but the full cost is likely higher because long-term medical expenses are difficult to measure.

Motorcyclists are involved in fatal crashes at higher rates than drivers of other types of vehicles, and are 30 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than passenger car occupants, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

It says in 2010, 82,000 motorcyclists were injured and 4,502 were killed in crashes. The average cost for a fatal crash was estimated at $1.2 million, while the cost for injuries ranged from $2,500 to $1.4 million depending upon the severity.

Laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets are said to be the only strategy proven effective in reducing fatalities and injuries. Several studies have estimated helmets reduce the risk of death by as much as 39 percent, the report said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated helmets saved the lives of 1,550 motorcyclists in 2010.

CONAGRA-MOODY'S

Ratings for ConAgra and Ralcorp on review

NEW YORK (AP) — Moody's and Standard & Poor's are reviewing their ratings for ConAgra Foods and Ralcorp, following ConAgra's announcement that it plans to buy private-label food producer Ralcorp for $5 billion.

ConAgra Foods, whose brands include Banquet and Chef Boyardee, will pay $90 per share to Ralcorp Holdings stockholders. The companies value the transaction at about $6.8 billion, when debt is included. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of March, provided it gets approval from Ralcorp shareholders.

VEGAS-DOWNTOWN ZIP LINE

Expanded zip line in the cards for downtown Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tourists will soon have a new way to see the lights of Las Vegas: By being spit out of the mouth of an 11-story slot machine and zinged down a five-block zip line past some of the city's oldest casinos.

Officials on Tuesday unveiled plans for a permanent zip line on the downtown Las Vegas promenade known as the Fremont Street Experience.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the SlotZilla thrill ride was destined to become an iconic city landmark.

The attraction is expected to open in June. It is an expansion of a smaller zip line that has for two years scooted families, newlyweds and Elvis impersonators beneath a metal canopy that displays an hourly light show.

That attraction was intended to be temporary when it opened in 2010.

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