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The Dow rose a meager 6 points to close at 12,890 on Thursday. Movement in the Greek refinancing deal and an improvement in the unemployment rates spurred the gain. Both Asian and European markets are tumbling on Friday due to challenges with the new Greek deal.
U.S.Median Household Income Increases 4 Percent at End of 2011
Inflation adjusted median household income in the US increased 4 percent, from$49,434 to $51,413 from August to December, according to a report from Sentier Research and reported by USAToday. Real median income is still 7 percent lower than in December 2007 and 3.9 percent lower than June 2009, when the recession officially ended. The report indicates, however, that while economic growth accelerated to 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of hours in a workweek increased from 34.3 to 34.5.
Microsoft opens Its Own Retail Stores…Steps Away From Apple Store
Microsoft is following in the steps of its greatest rival and opening its own chain of retail stores, according to the New York Times. The stores, in most cases, are being opened very near the Apple Stores. Apple Stores have turned into some of the most profitable retail stores in sales per square foot. But Microsoft has also closely watched some of the challenges of Apple Stores and hopes to avoid the problems. In general, Microsoft stores will be larger, have more staff available, and will seek to avoid the wait times. They will also provide large spaces for community meetings and classes.
Greeks strike against austerity as leaders work to seal the deal
The Greek workers went on strike Friday, hours after the European leaders said they need to make even more cuts to receive the bailout aid. According to Reuters, the EU and the IMF said that the existing Greek deal on spending cuts and wage cuts was still not enough. The Greeks are seeking $172 billion to avoid a default. The EU and IMF are demanding parliamentary ratification of the austerity package and the identification of 325 million euros of spending reductions by next Wednesday along with a strong commitment to implement the changes. The Greek workers feel they have had enough with one in five unemployed. Greek newspapers, however, are encouraging the workers to support the commitments. Greece has elections in April in which many of the leaders fear they will be ousted.
Citibank Bill Pay App Charges Customers Twice
About 2 percent of Citibank customers who used their iPad to pay bills from July to December were charged twice for the transactions, and in some cases, the bills were even paid twice, according to the New York Times. While the app is currently fixed and running correctly, Citibank has been criticized for failing to acknowledge the problem for several months.
Chinese New Year Impacts China Trade Numbers
The Chinese are concerned about negative export growth in January, according to the Wall Street Journal, but experts say the numbers are directly impacted by when the Chinese New Year fell and was celebrated. Export growth in January was -0.5 percent year to year, down from 13.4 percent from December. In 2011, however, the fall from the previous month when the Chinese New Year was celebrated was larger at 17.6 percent. Apparently the Chinese take significant time off during the holiday. Overall growth will be back on track after February, according to experts.
Gambling Revenues Return
Americans are returning to the casinos, according to USAToday. Las Vegas is resurging with revenues of $10.7 billion, up 2.8 percent from 2010. Nationwide gambling revenues are generally up 2.3 percent. The exception is Atlantic City where revenues fell almost 7 percent. Experts indicate that Atlantic City is being challenged by the number of new casinos in nearby cities and states that have chosen to roll the dice in this industry.
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.