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  • Dec 26- U.S. retail sales rose 5.5 percent from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve as solid demand for women's apparel, jewelry and casual dining offset surprisingly sluggish sales of electronics, MasterCard said in its holiday spending report. The report, which tracks spending by combining sales activity in MasterCard's payments network with...

  • It was a year when Cynk Technology, a development-stage company with no revenue, was briefly worth $6 billion, and when a long-forgotten closed-end fund focused on Cuba- the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund- saw more trading in one day in December than it had in six years. With a current market value of about $663 billion, if one were to pick a company that would be the...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 26- Oil prices fell Friday, tumbling as the dollar strengthened and a supply glut in top consumer the United States trumped worries about falling production from Libya. The market had come under pressure from Wednesday's Energy Department report, which showed a 7.3 million-barrel rise in crude inventories to their highest December level on...

  • Dec 26- Consumers spent actively on lodging and restaurants during the holiday season, while sales of electronics were flat, reflecting an ongoing shift toward spending on "experiences" rather than goods, MasterCard said in a holiday spending report. MasterCard said the growth was in line with its forecast for the holiday season and underscored the impact of an...

  • Grain mixed, livestock mostly higher Friday, 26 Dec 2014 | 10:57 AM ET

    CHICAGO— Grain futures were mixed Friday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for Mar delivery was. 5 cent higher at 6.12 a bushel; Mar corn was. 25 cent lower at $4.075 a bushel; Mar oats were unchanged at $3.0775 a bushel; while Mar soybeans rose 9.25 cents to $10.4450 a bushel. Feb live cattle was up. 13 cent to $1.6070 a pound; Mar feeder cattle was 2.17...

  • Penny parking thriving in small Illinois town Friday, 26 Dec 2014 | 10:46 AM ET

    SYCAMORE, Ill.— Mike Stolarski didn't need but a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee. In a time of strained city budgets, this community of 18,000 residents an hour west of Chicago is one of a handful still holding onto meters that accept pennies, nickels and dimes around its town square. The City Council quadrupled the fine for parking tickets a few years ago.

  • CHICAGO, Dec 24- U.S. consumers have not turned out in force for the final shopping days before Christmas, suggesting that traditional retailers will just meet industry sales forecasts in a season marked by deep discounts and growing encroachment from online rivals led by Amazon.com Inc.. "The past weekend will not save this holiday season," said Craig Johnson,...

  • NEW YORK, Dec 24- Global oil markets fell again on Wednesday in holiday-thin trade, extending more than a week of see-saw volatility as traders jousted over whether a growing supply glut had been fully priced in. "It's a Christmas flood of oil at a time when refiners and producers usually are letting inventories get lower for end-of-year tax reasons," said Phil...

  • BP appeals rejection of removing spill claims head Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 1:42 PM ET

    NEW ORLEANS— BP PLC is asking the federal appeals court in New Orleans to kick out the administrator of damage settlement claims from its 2010 oil spill. A 75- page brief submitted Tuesday to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals contends, among other things, that Patrick Juneau had secretly drafted court papers filed against BP before he was appointed claims...

  • Unions make push to recruit protected immigrants Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 12:19 PM ET

    CHICAGO— Unions across the U.S. are reaching out to immigrants affected by President Barack Obama's recent executive action, hoping to expand their dwindling ranks by recruiting millions of workers who entered the U.S. illegally. "I think we'll see very positive changes" because of the action, said Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International...

  • *Brent seesaws around $60; U.S. crude around $55. Brent seesawed on both sides of $60 and U.S. crude hovered around $55. "It's a Christmas flood of oil at a time when refiners and producers usually are letting inventories get lower for end-of-year tax reasons, but with this flood of supply there's no place to put it," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in...

  • Crude inventories rose by 7.3 million barrels in the last week, according to Energy Information Administration data, surprising analysts who had expected a decrease of 2.3 million barrels. "It's a very bearish report and plays into the mantra of supply glut and it will be interesting to see if the price can test the lows in the $53 area as the year comes to a close,"...

  • Grain lower, livestock mostly lower Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 10:54 AM ET

    CHICAGO— Grain futures were lower Tuesday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for Mar delivery was unchanged at 6.355 cents a bushel; Mar corn was 2 cents lower at $4.12 a bushel; Mar oats were unchanged at $3.09 a bushel; while Mar soybeans were unchanged at $10.4575 a bushel. Feb live cattle was unchanged at $1.6060 a pound; Mar feeder cattle was. 97...

  • Cards Against Humanity buys 6-acre Maine island Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 10:22 AM ET

    AUGUSTA, Maine— Cards Against Humanity has purchased a 6- acre private island in Maine and is doling out 1- square-foot parcels to participants in its holiday fundraising campaign. The Chicago- based game-maker bought Birch Island in St. George Lake for about $200,000 in October and renamed it Hawaii 2, the Portland Press Herald reported.

  • Los Angeles cracks down on tow truck bandits Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 7:04 AM ET

    LOS ANGELES— Residents of Los Angeles and some other major cities have another headache to add to their commuting woes— tow truck "bandits" who arrive unsolicited at an accident scene, tow away cars and hold them for ransom for big bucks. The cluster of cases recently led the city and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks such complaints nationwide, to...

  • Travel headaches for some into Christmas Day Wednesday, 24 Dec 2014 | 12:36 AM ET

    CHICAGO— A mix of Gulf Coast thunderstorms expected to travel north, predicted snowfall in the Great Lakes and blustery conditions in the nation's midsection threatened Tuesday to tangle holiday travel plans nationwide. While snow fell in some Midwestern states— nearly 2 feet in South Dakota's Black Hills— a strong storm system expected to drop rain along the...

  • "The FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men, including the results of several recently completed scientific studies and recent epidemiologic data," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement. The FDA said the move aligns the policy for...

  • Crude markets were also supported by expectations for lower U.S. inventories in preliminary data for the week to Dec. 19 due from the American Petroleum Institute. The Commerce Department earlier Tuesday revised up its estimate of U.S. gross domestic product growth in the third quarter to a 5.0 percent annual pace, citing stronger consumer and business...

  • Grain higher, cattle lower, pork higher Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 | 10:52 AM ET

    CHICAGO— Grain futures were higher Tuesday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for Mar delivery rose 6.75 cents to $6.325 a bushel; Mar corn was 1.75 cents higher at $4.135 a bushel; Mar oats were unchanged at $3.0975 a bushel; while Mar soybeans gained 6.25 cents to $10.52 a bushel. Feb live cattle was. 10 cent lower at $1.6072 a pound; Mar feeder cattle...

  • US STOCKS-Dow, S&P hit record after GDP data Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 | 9:49 AM ET

    *Q3 GDP revised up to 5 percent annual pace. NEW YORK, Dec 23- U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, with both the Dow and S&P 500 building on a four-day rally to set new intraday records after an unexpectedly strong report on economic growth. "That is a solid number, that is really what you want to see, you want to see it in demand," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO...