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U.S. Holiday Sales: Monday's Headlines

Monday's early headlines include a report on U.S. holiday retail sales and tighter travel restrictions.



) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Monday, Dec. 28, 2009.

Monday's Early Headlines

  • U.S. Holiday Sales Up 3.6% -- The Associated Press reports that retail sales were up 3.6% from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 2.3% drop in the year-ago period, according to figures from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which track all forms of payment, including cash. Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1% gain. One troubling sign is that gift card sales were down. When combined with lean inventories at retailers, it could mean a tough January sales month for merchants.
  • New Security Regulations Could Hurt Airlines -- Reuters reports that following a Nigerian man's attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jet, tighter security measures put into place could hamper travel and further hurt already bruised airline companies. The Department of Homeland Security said it was boosting airport security after the incident and advised passengers they may experience more scrutiny. One DHS official said available security measures that could be implemented range from bomb-sniffing dogs to behavior detection as well as other techniques, Reuters reported. Passengers may also face pat-downs and are being ordered to stay seated during the last hour of flight with nothing on their laps, airlines and security officials said.
  • Ferrero Still Considering Cadbury Bid -- Italian newspaper La Stampa reports that Italian candy company Ferrero is still mulling a possible bid for Cadbury (CBY) . The newspaper quoted the Italian company in a report over the weekend. A Ferrero spokesman denied a report in La Stampa which said that Ferrero's interest in Cadbury had cooled, according to a Reuters report.
  • 3Par a Takeover Target: Report -- A Barron's report over the weekend said 3Par (PAR) - Get Report is setting itself up as an attractive takeover target for larger tech companies which are eyeing smaller firms in the $14 billion data storage business. Kevin Hunt, a senior technology analyst at Hapoalim Securities, told Barron's that an initial offer "could be north of $15, putting a value of just under $1 billion on the company." He further added, "But, once in play, that takeout value could be quickly pushed up to $20 or more. There are just not that many firms out there that the big players would wish to buy."
  • RBS Could Sell $48 Billion of Foreign Assets -- The Observer reported Sunday that Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) - Get Report is planning 3 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) worth of asset sales in the new year, with its Asian operations likely to secure a buyer before the end of the year. The largest among the businesses proposed to be put on the block in the Sempra metals division, a joint venture with Sempra Energy (SRE) - Get Report, which could raise 2.5 billion pounds.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston

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