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Dec. 10, 2012 at 2:30 PM   |   Comments

Stocks rise lazily

NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Wall Street stocks posted muted gains Monday.

In early-afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average added 17.17 points, or 0.13 percent, to 13,172.30.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index gained 6.62 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,985.66. The Standard and Poor's 500 added 0.78 points, or 0.06 percent, to 1,418.85.

The 10-year treasury note rose 1/32 to yield 1.626 percent.

The euro rose to $1.2935 from Friday's $1.2926. The dollar fell to 82.36 yen from 82.49 yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 0.07 percent, 6.36 points, to 9,533.75.

Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.12 percent, 7.23 points, to 5,921.63.


Michigan gearing up for union clashes

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- State police said they were beefing up their presence in Michigan's capital in preparation for expected protests over fast-moving, right-to-work legislation.

Lawmakers in the state's House and Senate approved the Republican-backed initiative Thursday, passing separate bills within hours of their being introduced, The Detroit News reported.

The law would allow workers who don't want to be in a union to be hired in union shops, which has enraged union members across a state with a long history of organized labor struggles.

With Thursday's bills rushed through the legislative chambers, there was some doubt that protests on Tuesday, as a final vote is taken, would change any votes."

"There's no stopping it. The steamroller's moving. It's over. They're not listening to anybody," said Ken Grabowski, legislative director of the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

"Whether we'll be successful, I don't know. All throughout history, by demonstrating their displeasure with certain positions, people eventually change the course of that history," United Auto Workers President Bob King said.

The protests planned for Tuesday have police gearing up for the occasion. A storage room in the Capitol is filled with riot gear helmets, the News reported. Officers dressed in riot gear were already walking the hallways of the Capitol and police cars are filling up nearby parking lots.

"We always come prepared. We'll have a very visible presence at the Capitol. Our concern is to be able to provide that safe forum so everyone can exercise their constitutional rights," Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said.

Lawmakers may have also ensured themselves of police support by exempting firefighters and police from the legislation for reasons the News called "murky."

"They behave more like value-adding trade associations than unions," said Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey, who has been a strong advocate for the right-to-work initiative.

"These are men and women who must respond and rely on each other in ways no other union must," said pro tempore Speaker John Walsh, a Republican.

AFL-CIO labor attorney Andrew Nickelhoff said other unions rely on each other for safety, as well, but weren't exempted from the bill. "If that were really the reason, they would at least include corrections officers," Nickelhoff said.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has long held the position that making Michigan the 24th state with a right-to-work law was too divisive. But he changed his position last week after a meeting with backers of the bill and now says he will sign it.


Retailers set hiring record in November

CHICAGO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A human-resources research firm said U.S. retailers added 465,500 jobs in November, topping the record for the month, set in 2007, by 100 jobs.

Job additions for October and November set a pace that could put seasonal holiday hiring at the highest level since 2000 if December hiring matches the total for the same month last year, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported.

The firm analyzed non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a release, the firm said November hiring by retailers was 21 percent higher than November 2011, when 383,700 people were hired.

"Despite all of the uncertainty, all the talk of fiscal cliffs, the widespread damage to retail epicenters on the East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, and the continued growth of e-commerce, retailers are hiring holiday workers in record numbers," said the firm's chief executive officer, John Challenger.

"Of course, more people working this holiday season could result in further retail sales gains as more Americans have more spending money in their pockets for gifts," Challenger said.


Crude oil rise held back by supply

NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices rose marginally over $86 per barrel in New York over the weekend in what traders are finding is a well-supplied market.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a recent report that oil production in Texas and North Dakota surged in September, rising 16 percent over September 2011 or by 900,000 barrels to 6.5 million barrels a day. That is the highest domestic production rate since January 1998.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil added 50 cents to $86.43 per barrel. Home heating oil added 0.36 cents to reach $2.9189 a gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline gained 1.75 cents to $2.6149 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.05 cents to $3.446 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, AAA reported a national average price for regular unleaded gasoline at $3.34 per gallon, down from Sunday's $3.347.

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