US holiday sales slowly pick up
U.S. consumers shook off superstorm Sandy last month and stepped up holiday shopping, helped by a steady job market and lower gas prices.
Retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November from October, reversing the previous month’s decline.
Sales increased mostly because Americans spent more online, bought more electronics and began to replace cars and rebuild after the storm.
And a sharp drop in gas prices lowered the overall increase. Excluding gas stations, retail sales rose a solid 0.8 percent, according to the Commerce Department report released Thursday.
Good news for EU: Agreements reached
After months of bitter debate, European Union countries finally reached two crucial agreements Thursday: They found a compromise to create a single supervisor for their banks — a major step toward lessening the damage struggling lenders can inflict on government finances — and agreed to give Greece desperately needed bailout funds.
So upbeat was the mood in Brussels that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy even dared to say the end of the crisis might be at hand.
No new tobacco products introduced
Tobacco companies have introduced almost no new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products in the U.S. in more than 18 months because the federal government has prevented them from doing so, an Associated Press review has found.
It’s an unprecedented pause for an industry that historically has introduced dozens of new products annually, and reflects its increasingly uneasy relationship with the Food and Drug Administration, which in 2009 began regulating tobacco.
Officials at the FDA say the reviews of applications for new products have taken so long because of “significant deficiencies” and because the agency is taking extra care in reviewing products that pose public- health risks.
Industry executives say cigarettes haven’t changed in any meaningful way and the delays don’t make sense.
Vindicator wire reports
Selected local stocks
Aqua America, .70, 24.86 —.28
Clear Channel, .73 76.94 —.57
Cortland Bancorp, 9.80—.20
Farmers Nat., .126.20 —.06
First Energy, 2.20, 40.72—.48
FirstMerit Corp., .64,13.88 —.19
First Niles Financial, .32,6.00.00
First Place Fin., .0135.00
FNB Corp., .48,10.52—.03
General Electric, .68,21.64—.14
Motors Liquidation, .0422.00
Huntington Bank, .16, 6.17—.08
JP Morgan Chase, 1.20,42.79.02
Key Corp, .20,8.14—.06
LaFarge, 14.80 —.14
Macy’s, .80, 38.22—.64
Parker Hannifin, 1.64, 83.27.15
RTI Intl. Metals,25.13—.02
Simon Prop. Grp.,4.40,154.00—2.40
Stoneridge 5.19 —.12
United Community Fin. 2.93—.02
Selected prices at 4 p.m. Thursday. Provided by Stifel Nicolaus. Not to be construed as an offer or recommendation to buy or sell any security.