Nov. 27 - Summary: Records on Wall Street as economy strides into the holidays; Bitcoin tops $1,000; CVS Caremark pays $2 billion to expand services; Judge clears tarmac for AMR, US Airways merger. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL You can call it a mild attitude of gratitude on Wall Street. Stocks continue their upward crawl to record highs and the Nasdaq holds above that 4,000 mark. Economists and retailers trying to guess what kind of holiday shopping season it will be, had a lot of numbers to consider. First-time unemployment claims surprisingly fell last week... And oil prices are at a six-month low thanks to a build in crude supplies. Lower gasoline prices should follow, which could put some extra change in consumers' wallets. Mortgage refinancings saw a slight increase last week - that too could provide shoppers with more cash. The mood of the consumer actually improved at the end of November, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. But things are still expected to be tough out there for retailers, which are slashing prices like crazy. Britt Beemer is chairman and CEO of America's Research Group. BRITT BEEMER, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, AMERICA'S RESEARCH GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is going to be most advertised driven shopper in the 35 years that I've studied Christmas. So what that means is what retailers have great deals - consumers are going to show up, but if they don't have good deals they are going to be retail museums." Looking at some key names: Amazon and Apple were noticeably higher. Wal-Mart and Macy's less so, but Best Buy was left out. By the way - looking for a stocking stuffer? How about Bitcoin? The digital currency not backed by any government cracked $1,000 for the first time in its short history, up from just $215 at the start of the month. Business activity in the Midwest expanded this month at a slower pace, but orders for large ticket items, known as durable goods, were depressed in October. On the corporate front: CVS Caremark digging deep to buy Coram, a drug infusion services provider, for $2.1 billion. And a bankruptcy judge clears the way for American Airlines and USAir to finally merge. The courts approved a Justice Department settlement forcing the two carriers to give up some airport spots. AMR now expects to close the deal by December 9th. Markets closed higher in Europe where they will be open on Thursday, but closed in the U.S. for Thanksgiving.