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Nov. 23, 2012 at 5:38 PM
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Santa Claus rally under way on Wall Street

NEW YORK, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. stock traders were in a Christmas mood Friday as the holiday shopping season got under way.

At the close following a holiday-shortened session, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 172.79 points or 1.35 percent to 13,009.68. On the New York Stock Exchange 2,440 issues advanced and 488 declined on total volume of 1.45 billion shares.

The Nasdaq added 40.30 points or 1.38 percent to 2,966.85 and the S&P 500 gained 18.12 points or 1.3 percent to 1,409.15.

The 10-year treasury note fell 2/32 to yield 1.694 percent.

On currency markets, the euro rose to $1.2972 from Thursday's $1.2884 while against the yen the dollar fell to 82.4 yen from Thursday's 82.46.

Asian and European markets were mostly higher.

Japan's Nikkei rose 1.56 percent to 9,366.80 while the Hong Kong Hang Seng index was up 0.79 percent to 21,913.98. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.49 percent to 5,819.14 while the German DAX rose 0.89 percent to 7,309 and the French CAC was up 0.87 percent to 3,528.80. The Australia All Ordinaries fell 0.02 percent to 4,431.50.

Black Friday: Discounts, protests, gunplay

NEW YORK, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. bargain hunters indulged in post-turkey deal seeking as some of the nation's largest retailers opened earlier than ever for Black Friday.

Though a Gallup poll indicated just one-in-five Americans planned to go shopping Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving and the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season -- by midday Walmart said it had processed more than 1 million register transactions at its 4,000 U.S. stores, CNNMoney said.

Walmart opened its doors at 8 p.m. Thursday, angering some employees who say the ever-earlier opening times are infringing on their right to spend the holiday with family.

In New York's Times Square, tourists and shoppers lined up outside a Toys "R" Us, which also opened at 8 p.m. Thursday.

For some, the overnight sales prove alluring enough to shop not just for Christmas but pending birthdays and other annual gift-giving occasions, The New York Times said.

EU budget talks break down

BRUSSELS, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A summit of European Union members in Brussels failed to produce a long-term budget agreement, with negotiators at odds over spending and austerity.

The two-day summit ended after EU member government leaders were unable to accept a proposal by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, the Financial Times reported Friday. Van Rompuy told reporters negotiators "need some more time to finalize the solution."

"There's no need to dramatize," he said. "These budget negotiations are so complex it generally takes two goes."

British Prime Minister David Cameron -- who called for an EU budget freeze last year -- said EU members calling for more spending to revive the economy seem to be operating in a "parallel universe," the newspaper said.

One sticking point is the level of spending for EU administrative costs, the report said.

Contract vote set at American Crystal

MOORHEAD, Minn., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Locked out workers at Minnesota's American Crystal Sugar Co. will vote next week on a contract they say is much the same as one they've rejected three times.

The company locked out workers 16 months ago and has been operating with replacement workers.

Workers at the company's facilities in Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers -- the union that represents 5,000 bakers at Hostess Brands. At least 90 percent of them rejected American Sugar's initial contract offer in two votes last year and 63 percent voted no in June.

The contract calls for a 13 percent pay raise over five years but requires employees to pay more out-of-pocket for healthcare. It allows the company to contract out more union jobs, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported Friday.

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