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Wednesday
Nov242010

Weekly Jobless Claims Drop to Lowest Point in Two Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims dropped more than expected last week, to the lowest level in two years, according to the latest claims report.

The U.S. Department of Labor's figures released Wednesday showed intial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 407,000 in the week ending Nov. 20, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week's 441,000.  The four-week moving average in claims also dropped to 436,000, a decline of 7,500 from the previous week's average of 443,500.

Weekly jobless claims haven't been this low since July of 2008.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

Consumers Could Face Fees When Returning Gifts

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It may be a bit early to think about returning presents you might get for Christmas.  But with the holiday shopping season's pinnacle, Black Friday, around the corner, there's a fee consumers should be aware of if they choose to bring something back to the store.

They're called re-stocking fees, and according to Consumer Reports' Greg Daugherty, "a lot of people encounter [them] when they have to return something, especially in electronics."

Some of the fees can be high.  Daugherty references CompUSA as an example, saying the store has "a re-stocking fee of up to 25 percent on some items."

Daugherty advises shoppers to "ask before you buy something, 'Is there going to be a re-stocking fee if I have to return this?,' and in particular if you're buying a gift for somebody you don't want them stuck with a re-stocking fee if they have to return their gift."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Americans Want to See Taxes, Unemployment Benefits Extended Before 2011

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PRINCETON, NJ) – Americans believe that the lame-duck session of Congress should focus on tax issues before the end of the year, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.

More than 50 percent of those polled said that keeping the estate tax from increasing, as well as the extension of Bush-era tax cuts, should be key priorities.

Extending benefits for the long-term unemployed was another important issue, at 48 percent.

Income tax cuts set forth by the Bush administration would expire at the end of this year if not extended during the lame-duck session. The estate tax, which was suspended for 2010, would also go back into effect in 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

J. Crew Reaches Buyout Deal 

Photo Courtesy -- JCrew.com(NEW YORK) -- U.S. fashion retailer J. Crew has closed a deal to be acquired by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, according to The New York Times

The agreement would sell the company for roughly $2.8 billion, or $43.50 per share.

The deal comes amid weak sales and customer disapproval over J. Crew’s higher prices in relation to comparative retailers.

Revenue, however, showed signs of growth earlier this year. In August, second quarter income reached $34.9 million, up from $18.6 million during the same period of 2009.

Under the deal, TPG Capital would have a 75-percent stake in the company, with Leonard Green & Partners holding a 25-percent stake, sources tell the Times.
 
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

GM Repayment of TARP Funds Exceeds $250 Billion

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – General Motors has returned more than $250 million in bailout funds to taxpayers, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The department announced Tuesday that GM had delivered $11.7 billion in net proceeds from the initial public offering of shares of GM common stock.

“Our temporary assistance for the U.S. auto industry saved more than one million jobs across the industrial heartland of America and – like the overall TARP program – is on track to cost far less than anyone had first anticipated,” said Tim Massad, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability. “General Motors’ successful initial public offering is another important milestone in our efforts to recover TARP funds on behalf of the American taxpayer.”
 
In total, GM has returned $252 billion in TARP funds to taxpayers through repayments, dividends, interest, cancelled commitments, and other revenues.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

‘Anti-Christmas’ Retailer Gives Up on ‘Holidays?’

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Under pressure from other retailers and various organizations, Dick’s Sporting Goods has given up on its use of the phrase “holidays” in place of “Christmas,” according to AdAge.com.

The retailer, which had opted to embrace the spirit of the “holiday” season as opposed to “Christmas” when considering its advertising schemes, was put under pressure to change after the American Family Association encouraged all of its 2.3 million supporters to shun the sporting goods retailer.
 
"In our research of the Top 100 retailers in America, Dick's advertising is likely the most 'anti-Christmas' of all," read the alert sent out to AFA supporters.

"Sure, Dick's wants you to buy their products, but no retailer in the nation has appeared to go out of its way to snub 'Christmas' more than Dick's."

Dick’s was quick to respond to the AFA with a statement that said that changes to their marketing strategy were underway and that “Christmas” would become a major part of their advertising campaign by Nov. 28.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Gallup: American Confidence in Economy Up So Far in November

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, NJ) – Americans are more optimistic about the economy than they were a year ago, according to Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index.

The index, which is derived from consumer ratings of the current economic situation and economic outlook, is up to -26 from -29 in October. However, the current figure is actually a decline from a midterm election surge that brought the figure to -22.
 
The optimism may stick around as the percent of Americans who view the economy as “getting worse” also declined, down to 57 percent from 60 percent in October.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Existing Home Sales Dip in October

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a two month bounce, sales of pre-owned homes took a dip in October, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.

The group says sales of existing homes dropped 2.2 percent last month -- bigger than the 1 percent economists were expecting -- to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.43 million units.

"The housing market is experiencing an uneven recovery, and a temporary foreclosure stoppage in some states is likely to have held back a number of completed sales," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the realtors group.

Sales are off by almost 26 percent compared to a year ago.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Revised GDP Shows Stronger Growth in Summer Quarter

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. economy grew at a faster pace during the summer quarter than previously estimated.

The annual growth rate for the third quarter was 2.5 percent, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, compared to an earlier estimate of just 2 percent.

More spending by consumers and rising overseas sales of American-made products gave a lift to the economy, but the modest improvement was not enough to drive down the jobless rate.

"It's a mixed bag in that it's better growth, but sets the stage for somewhat weaker growth going forward," said economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial.

"Retailers who have been complaining about inventories, they have a reason to," Swonk said. "Inventories were built faster than we thought over the summer, and faster than consumers could buy them."

The news, she says, means retailers are going to make an extra push this holiday season.

"To the benefit of consumers, they're going to be doing more discounting, even more discounting than they thought, not only through this Black Friday holiday, but as we move into the holiday season to now  unload those unwanted inventories."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Retailers Counting on Consumers to Open Wallets on Black Friday 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retailers across America are longing for the days when people had money to spend, and they spent it like crazy.  The last time that happened was the 2007 holiday shopping season, just as the recession began its protracted grip on the U.S. economy.

Three years later, consumers are battered, bruised, and broke.  But the National Retail Federation (NRF) is seeing a light shining at the end of the tunnel and it's getting switched on this Black Friday -- the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

The NRF's Scott Krugman says that 2010 "presents a consumer with a little more spending power than last year" and while it won't reach the spending frenzy of 2007, it should be 2.3 percent higher than 2009.

An estimated 138 million Americans are expected to hit the stores at some point during the upcoming weekend, with electronic goods expected to get the most attention, thanks to favorites like tablets and laptops.  A lot of other merchandise will be heavily discounted for a limited time to attract shoppers.

For those preferring to avoid brick and mortar stores, there's always online shopping, which continues to get stronger every year.  Predictions are that it will grow by 16 percent from 2009 levels, to $51.7 billion this season.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio