Online sales soar on Black Friday
The Financial Times reports that online sales jumped by more than 20 percent on Black Friday as online sales continued to grow at a faster pace than retail sales. Internet sales were up 20 percent from a year ago on Friday and up 17.4 percent on the previous day, Thanksgiving. But individuals spent less than in 2011, according to IBM research. Shopping on mobile devices increased, representing 10 percent of all online transactions. In bricks and mortar stores, sales were down 1.8 percent from a year ago at $11.2 billion, the first drop since 2008. The fall was attributed, however, to several stores opening early on Thanksgiving Day, including Walmart and Target. The combined sales of the two days are expected to exceed last year’s $11.4 billion.
Greek debt talks return
The troika of international creditors (European Union, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank) is once again trying to resolve Greece’s debt crisis. CNBC reports that the creditors are meeting today to determine whether to finalize $40 billion of additional aid to Greece. Greece is currently out of cash. It is likely that the troika will grant the aid today with acknowledgement that the need for debt restructuring continues to exist. Greece’s debt is expected to peak at 190 percent of GDP next year but without further debt concessions; it is unlikely to meet its target of 120 percent debt to GDP ration by 2020. The debt concessions may mean forgiveness of debt by other donor nations. That concept is not acceptable to many of the other EU countries, especially Germany.
Dow climbs back above 13,000
The Dow advanced 172 points on Friday in light trading for the best weekly rise since the week of June 8. The Wall Street Journal indicates that Friday was the first day that the Dow passed 13,000 since the election. Asian markets were higher on Friday after data showed that Chinese manufacturing activity in November expanded for the first time in 13 months. Positive German data also boosted the European markets on Friday. European shares are trading lower on Monday awaiting a decision on Greece while Asian shares are mixed.
EU Budget talks fail
EU leaders ended a two day summit on Friday without a deal on a common budget for the 27 nation bloc. The negotiations come at a time when economic conditions are weak and many countries are experiencing riots and protests. According to the Wall Street Journal, subsidies for farming were one of the more contentious issues. Leaders indicate that a deal may be possible early next year. Failure to reach agreement could jeopardize planning for a broad range of EU programs.
Bankers in small towns earn big bucks
Lenders are in demand in regional and small banks across the country resulting in larger paychecks for commercial bankers. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average compensation package for a lender is up 17 percent this year to $101,376. That is the highest amount since the onset of the financial crisis and more than twice the average US compensation of $42,211. Small town bankers are in demand allowing banks to lend to small and mid-size businesses. The pay of small town bankers pales in comparison to the Wall Street paychecks in which a Goldman Sachs banker averages $336,503.
US crop producers invest in the Ukraine market
According to the Financial Times, two of the world’s largest producers of agricultural products, Dupont Pioneer and Monsanto, are working with the Ukrainian government to construct domestic seed production plants in the country. Dupont will invest more than $40 million into the construction of a production facility. The government believes that access to the best seeds and innovative farming technology will greatly strengthen the production of the Ukraine. Ukraine currently produces 40-50 million tons of grain annually and hopes to export 80-100 million tons in the future. Although it is one of the worlds’s largest exporters of corn, barley, wheat and other grains, use of low quality seeds have kept yields at half of the EU average.
Aston Martin lures bidders
The famous sports car maker, Aston Martin, is in talks with two bidders for a potential 50 percent stake in the company. India’s Mahindra & Mahindra and Europe’s InvestIndustrial are the final bidders. The investment would allow Aston Martin to increase its capital and bring in new investors alongside a consortium led by Kuwait’s Investment Dar. The Kuwaitis currently own 60 percent of the business. Investment Dar purchased the company from Ford Motors in 2007 for 479 million pounds. Last year, Aston Martin sold 300 million pounds of high yield bonds to finance its bank loans.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.