orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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November 29, 2012

Stock gains dented over twists in budget talks

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The Commerce Department raised its estimate for U.S. economic growth to an annual rate of 2.7 percent in the July-through-September period. That's much better than the 2 percent rate estimated a month ago and more than twice the 1.3 percent rate logged in the three previous months.

The Labor Department also reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped to 393,000 last week, in line with what economists had expected. It was the second straight drop after Superstorm Sandy drove applications higher earlier this month.

Some retail stores posted poor sales numbers, driving their stocks lower. It's a critical time for retailers, who log a huge chunk of their yearly profits in the weeks running up to the holidays.

Kohl's plunged $5.41, or 10 percent, to $45.74, the most in the S&P 500 index. The company posted a drop in sales and said stores in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, areas hit by Superstorm Sandy, fared the worst. Results at Target, The Gap, and others also fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Kroger Co. rose 82 cents to $25.88 after the supermarket chain reported stronger quarterly profits and raised its earnings outlook for the year. Stronger sales helped the operator of Fred Meyer and Food 4 Less stores post better results than analysts had expected.

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