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Thanksgiving - the holiday that keeps on giving. Consumer spending over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend climbed 13% to $59.1B, although the growth was slower than the 16% increase last year. Average spending per customer rose 6.3% to $423. Online sales on Black Friday jumped 26% and topped $1B for the first time, says ComScore, which forecasts that Internet sales over the holiday season will grow 17% to a record $43.4B.
New anti-ad app threatens mobile revenues. Attempts by Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG) and other Web sites to boost their mobile revenues could be hit by a new app for Android called AdBlock Plus, which is due to be launched tomorrow by German firm Eyeo. As the name suggests, the app blocks pop-up and display ads on Web sites, and commercials that precede videos such as on YouTube.
Top Stock News
Qatar to sell £771M of shares in Barclays. Qatar Holding plans to sell £771M of shares in Barclays (BCS) through the liquidation of its remaining warrants in the British bank. However, the fund, which said it remains a "supportive strategic investor," will continue to be Barclays' biggest shareholder, with its 6.7% stake staying unchanged. Qatar is selling the securities at a 4% discount to Friday's close, sending the bank's shares - unsurprisingly - 4.2% lower premarket. Meanwhile, Barclays has reportedly come under pressure from some of its biggest shareholders to follow UBS's (UBS) example and offload its investment bank.
UBS to seek dismissal of FHFA lawsuit. UBS (UBS) is due to ask an appeals court today to dismiss a lawsuit from the Federal Housing Finance Agency over losses on $6.4B in mortgage bonds sold to Fannie Mae (OTC:FNMA) and Freddie Mac (OTC:FMCC). UBS argues that the claims expired in 2010 and so are time-barred by the statute of repose. The stakes are high not just for UBS but also for several other banks that the FHFA has sued for a similar reason, including JPMorgan (JPM), Barclays (BCS) and Goldman Sachs (GS).
Swiss regulator tightens controls on UBS. Swiss regulator Finma is looking at whether UBS (UBS) needs to increase its capital backing for its operational risks as part of measures to repair "serious deficiencies in risk management controls" that led to a $2.3B trading loss. Finma also intends to appoint an independent auditor to study whether the remedial steps UBS is taking are effective. The U.K.'s FSA is fining the bank £29.7M for the failures that led to the loss.
BlackRock creating pioneering infrastructure fund. BlackRock (BLK) is setting up an infrastructure fund in London in a move that would make it one of the first major fund managers to enter the market. The fund would fill the void left by banks, which have backed out of the field due to capital limitations and regulatory pressure, and help governments raise the private financing that would assist them in carrying out infrastructure projects. It could also encourage other asset managers to follow suit.
Movie theater revenue hits Thanksgiving record. Sales of cinema tickets over the five-day Thanksgiving period starting on Wednesday hit a record $290M. Lions Gate's (LGF) "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" led the way with $64M, bringing the film's total domestic revenue to $227M, while Sony's (SNE) "Skyfall" generated $51M, and Fox's (NWS) "Life of Pie" $30.2M.
Top Economic & Other News
Troika to try again on Greece. The Troika is due to make a third attempt today to come to an agreement over reducing Greece's debt burden. A deal is key to the eurozone approving the release of the latest tranche of the country's bailout. German central bank governor Jens Weidmann has apparently suggested that Greece could "earn" a reduction on its debt to eurozone governments in a few years if it behaves itself.
Argentina to appeal $1.3B payout to bondholders. Argentina is due to appeal today against a U.S. court ruling that it must pay $1.3B to holders of debt that refused to accept haircuts on their paper after the country defaulted on almost $100B of loans in 2001. Complying with the order would force the Argentine government to break its own law and put it at risk of lawsuits from those who accepted its debt restructuring. However, not complying could put the country in technical default.
Talks on fiscal cliff making little progress as deadline looms. Congress is due to return to work this week after the Thanksgiving break, having made little progress on a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff." While the cliff is five weeks away, a Democratic aide says he's not surprised at the lack of major concessions so far, given that real deal-making usually happens at the last minute, which is "two weeks away."
Rio expects China demand to continue being substantial. Rio Tinto (RIO) expects that China's demand for minerals and metals "will still be substantial" in the coming years even if it won't grow at the "blistering pace we have seen over the last decade," said Ian Bauert, the company's managing director for the country. Supporting demand will be the development of China's western regions and a move to value-added manufacturing.
Japan's LDP maintains poll lead. Japan's opposition LDP party - led by Shinzo Abe - has maintained its lead over the DPJ in the latest polling ahead of an election on December 16. It's more good news for Nikkei longs and yen shorts, as Abe's call for "unlimited monetary easing" has set off what is now a 10% rally in stocks and more than a 4% decline in the yen in just two weeks. Those holding Japanese ETFs might then well ask why they haven't done so well? The answer may be that they're not currency hedged. Here's a comparison since the rally started.
In Asia, Japan +0.2% to 9389. Hong Kong -0.2% to 21862. China -0.5% to 2017. India +0.2% to 18537.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.5%. Paris -0.9%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.3%. S&P -0.4%. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude -0.4% to $87.90. Gold -0.1% to $1749.00.
Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Chicago Fed National Activity Index
10:30 Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook
Notable earnings before today's open: SDRL