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Nov. 28, 2012 at 2:11 PM
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Markets focused on budget talks

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks struggled into positive territory Wednesday morning, as comments concerning budget talks in Washington ranged from upbeat to dour.

Erskine Bowles, former co-chairman of President Obama's debt commission, said he thought going over the so-called "fiscal cliff" was unavoidable while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sounded more optimistic a budget deal to avoid the fiscal cliff was likely.

Each comment in Washington is translated to stock activity -- plus and minus. A key player mentioning a deal could be made is bullish for Wall Street while pessimism on Capitol Hill concerning a budget deal gives bears the upper hand in New York.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 25.14 points or 0.2 percent to 12,903.27.

The Nasdaq shed 1.84 points or 0.06 percent to 2,965.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 was flat, up 0.12 points or 0.01 percent to 1,399.06.

The 10-year treasury note rose r/32 to yield 1.624 percent.

The euro fell to $1.2923 from Tuesday's $1.2944. The dollar fell to 81.9 yen from 82.16 yen.

Japan's Nikkei dropped 1.22 percent, 114.95 points, to 9,308.35.

In London, the FTSE 100 index

EU to bail out four Spanish banks

MADRID, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The European Commission said it would loan $48 billion to four banks in Spain provided they follow restructuring recommendations.

To receive the funding, the banks will have to lay off thousands of workers, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The move to rescue BFA/Bankia, NCG, Catalunya Banc and Banco de Valencia was "a milestone," said European Union antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

In prior bailouts set up by the European Union, funds have gone to governments, not private firms.

The bailout will make use of European Stability Mechanism funds and is part of a $130 billion program set up for Spanish banks.

So far, Spain continues to claim that not all of the $130 billion will be necessary to rescue its banking sector, which got into trouble as loans defaulted with global economic downturn coming on the heels of a building boom in Spain.

An audit conducted by consulting firm Oliver Wyman said Spanish banks would require $76.7 billion to return to stability.

Average Canadian weekly pay dips

OTTAWA, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The average Canadian weekly pay fell 0.5 percent, or about $5 in September to $902 from a month earlier, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Despite the monthly dip, non-farm payroll earnings on a 12-month basis were up 3.4 percent, the report said.

"In September, the average hours worked per week was 33, unchanged from 12 months earlier, and down from 33.1 in August," StatsCan said.

On an annual basis, earnings in three of the largest sectors outpaced the 3.4 percent increase.

Manufacturing weekly pay was up 5.7 percent to $1,026.45, weekly earnings in retail trade rose 4.7 percent to $530.10 and weekly pay in professional, scientific and technical services rose 4 percent to $1,276.62, the report said.

Regionally on an annual basis, average weekly pay rose in all 10 provinces.

"Alberta continued to have the highest earnings in the country, at $1,085.22, which was 4 percent above the level in September 2011," the agency said.

New home sales slide slightly in October

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Sales of new single-family homes fell slightly September to October, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Sales dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000 from a revised September rate of 369,000.

Sales also rose 17.2 percent more than the annual rate of 314,000 from October 2011.

The Commerce Department said the average sale price for a new home sold in October was $278,900, down from $292,400 in September.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of how many new homes were on the market at the end of the month was 147,000, which is 2,000 more than September and represents a 4.8-month supply at the current rate of sales.

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