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Nov. 14, 2012 at 7:23 PM
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Post-election stock slide keeps going

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The post-election slide in U.S. stocks showed no sign of abating Wednesday after the Commerce Department said retail sales fell in October.

Total sales dropped 0.3 percent, with automobile sales off 0.5 percent September to October, the government said. The producer price index for the month fell 0.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Although low inflation has some benefits, a drop in prices is a sign the recovery is not supporting prices producers need to expand.

The European Union's statistical office Eurostat said Wednesday industrial production fell 2.5 percent in the eurozone August to September.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 185.23 points, or 1.45 percent, to 12,570.95.

The Nasdaq was off 37.08 points, or 1.29 percent, to 2,846.81.

The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 19.04 points, or 1.39 percent, to 1,355.49.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 314 stocks advanced and 2,778 declined on a volume of 4 billion shares traded.

The benchmark 10-year treasury was up 1/32, yielding 1.595 percent.

The euro rose to $1.2734 from Tuesday's $1.2704. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 80.18 from 79.39 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index was flat, climbing 0.04 percent, 3.68 points, to 8,664.73.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 1.11 percent, 64.24, to 5,722.01.

Consumers split on home ownership

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Home ownership is a conundrum for U.S. consumers, who view it as important but not necessarily the wisest investment, a survey indicates.

Country Financial said Americans are split on home ownership, with 53 percent of respondents saying owning is better than renting.

However, while 72 percent indicated it is important to own a home, only 32 percent said it is "the best investment a family can make."

Other ways of looking at home ownership also came away with disparate opinions. While 88 percent of respondents indicated owning a home is important, only 45 percent indicated they believed a middle-income family could afford to own a home, Country Financial said.

"Home ownership is important for Americans, but the market's slow recovery might be causing them to doubt its value," said Joe Buhrmann, Country Financial manager of financial security.

But the survey also found 18- to 29-year-old consumers indicated home ownership was more attainable, but not as important compared with older consumers.

Those 65 years old or older indicated owning a home was less attainable, but more important.

In the survey, 49 percent of the younger group indicated owning a home is attainable, while only 37 percent indicated it was the best investment a family could make.

In the older group, 36 percent indicated owning a home was attainable and a slim majority, 51 percent, said it was the best investment for a family.

The results were based on 4,000 online and telephone interviews. Country Financial did not divulge the margin of error for the survey, which was compiled by Rasmussen Reports, or when they were conducted.

Fiat holds off on buying more of Chrysler

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The chief executive officer of Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, says he is temporarily backing away from plans to buy more of U.S. automaker Chrysler Group.

Fiat SpA owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler and as of July had the option to increase its stake. It could exercise an option that comes around every six months, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.

But Fiat is spending money on plants in Europe in an attempt to nudge forward while other automakers in Europe pedal backward, closing factories to compensate for the economic slowdown on the continent.

Given Fiat's funds are tied up, "It is clear that, given Fiat's capital requirements and the availability of liquidity today ... it is highly unlikely that we will be able to finance the take out of the minority stake in Chrysler -- unless something extraordinary happens and we find liquidity through other means," Marchionne said when revealing Fiat's plans to reinvest in European markets.

Complicating the matter further, the remaining 41.5 percent of Chrysler Group is owned by a United Auto Worker union healthcare trust fund for retirees and that trust may take its share of the company public next year, the News said.

The trust can do so as of Jan. 1. After that, "It takes several months to go through the Securities and Exchange Commission filing process," said Reena Aggarwal, an initial public offering expert at Georgetown University.

Looking at the situation from the other side of the street, by the time a IPO can take place, Fiat has, potentially, the ability to own 70 percent of Chrysler Group. That means the trust can go public with only 30 percent of the company. Investors, at that point, would be buying into a company in which they have little say in the company's decisions.

If it needs to, Fiat could raise the funds to buy Chrysler by taking its luxury brand Ferrari public. Fiat at this point owns 90 percent of the iconic sports car company.

Toyota recalling 2.8 million vehicles

TOKYO, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Nearly 2.8 million Toyota vehicles will be recalled over concerns about steering wheel shaft and water-pump defects, the Japanese automaker said Wednesday.

The huge recall includes 10 models shipped from August 2000 through December 2011, including the Corolla and Avensis, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. said in a release on its website the overall recalls include about 670,000 Prius cars in the United States that will be inspected to see if they need the "steering intermediate extension shaft" replaced. About 350,000 of the same Prius cars also are being recalled to replace the electric water pump for the hybrid system.

Neither problem has been known to cause any crashes or injuries, Toyota said.

The latest recall comes on the heels of Toyota's largest-ever recall last month, which involved 7.43 million vehicles worldwide, including 2.52 million in the United States, The Detroit News noted. That one involved power-window switches that were a risk to start fires.

The Japanese automaker also called back a total of 12.4 million vehicles worldwide between 2009 and 2011 for a problem with unintended acceleration linked to floor mats, including 10.2 million in the United States, the News said.

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