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Nov. 28, 2012 at 7:54 PM
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Markets stage late rally

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks swung into positive territory late Wednesday, as a key financial journal said the Federal Reserve is likely to extend its bond buying program.

A Wall Street Journal article said the Fed was "likely" to buy bonds in 2013, which sparked a rally.

Investors are also monitoring comments concerning budget talks in Washington that range 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.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 106.98 points or 0.83 percent to 12,985.11.

The Nasdaq, down in the middle of the afternoon, closed with a gain of 23.99 points or 0.81 percent to 2,991.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 10.99 points or 0.79 percent to 1,409.93.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,083 stocks advanced and 928 declined on a volume of 3.3 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note rose 2/32 to yield 1.632 percent.

The euro rose to $1.2947 from Tuesday's $1.2944. The dollar fell to 81.13 yen from 82.16 yen.

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

Peabody to close Illinois coal mine

HARRISBURG, Ill., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Mining firm Peabody Energy Corp. said it would close a coal mine in Southern Illinois, citing diminishing returns and safety concerns.

"Willow Lake has had issues performing at an acceptable standard for safety, compliance and productivity despite aggressive programs targeting improvement," company spokeswoman Beth Sutton said of the mine near Harrisburg, Ill.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that 400 jobs will be lost as the mine closes.

The mine produced 2.2 million tons of coal in 2011, but production at the mine has been waning.

Safety issues did play a part in the decision to close, with the company citing the death of a worker less than two weeks ago as a contributing factor.

The worker was pinned by a piece of equipment.

The company and a spokesman for United Mine Workers of America both said the closure was not related to ongoing contract talks. "We were very surprised. We felt like [talks] were on the right path," said union spokesman Phil Smith.

The company also said negotiations were not over, as it would still operate a coal preparation plant that processes coal from two other nearby mines.

Retail chain Comet could close soon

LONDON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Business consulting firm Deloitte said without a buyer the British retail chain Comet may have to close by the end of the year.

There is a chance 5,000 workers may lose their jobs during the holiday season, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

The company has already closed 41 stores with the loss of 1,000 jobs. In the next few weeks the company plans to shutter 125 more stores, which would affect about 3,000 more employees.

The company reported that there are a few suitors discussing a possible purchase of company assets. "We remain in discussions with a small number of interested parties," said Chris Farrington, Comet's joint administrator.

"Should any acceptable offers be received for stores we will delay the closure process. Unfortunately, in the absence of a firm offer for the whole business, it has become necessary to begin making plans in case a sale is not concluded," he said.

"If a sale is not possible, we would envisage stores to begin closing in December," he added.

The administrator has already targeted Friday for closure of the company's distribution center, The Guardian said.

Three retailers are in discussions to buy some of Comet's assets, including Dixons Retail and TK Maxx, which could each purchase some outlets. Meanwhile, Appliances Online has been considering a purchase of Comet's online business.

Job references -- good, bad and whoops

CHICAGO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. job seekers would be wise to double check their job references, outplacement firm CareerBuilder said.

In a new survey 62 percent of employers indicated they had contacted a job applicant's references and found the reference did not give the candidate a positive review.

In addition, 29 percent of the respondents indicated that they had discovered a phony reference listed on a job candidate's application, CareerBuilder said in a statement.

"You want to make sure you are including your biggest cheerleaders among your job references," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

"Before choosing someone, ask yourself, 'Did this person understand my full scope of responsibilities? Can he or she vouch for my skills, accomplishments and work ethic?'"

"You also want to make sure that you ask your former colleagues if you can list them as a reference. If someone is unwilling, it helps you to avoid a potentially awkward or damaging interaction with an employer of interest," Haefner said.

Among the potential mistakes for job seekers, 15 percent indicated they had failed to tell some people they were listing them as a reference.

The survey found eight of 10 employers indicated they called references with 16 percent indicating they contacted references before they contacted the job candidate.

In addition, 47 percent of employers indicated a reference had changed their opinion for the worse about a job candidate while contacting a reference and 23 percent indicated a reference had altered their opinion to one that was more favorable toward the job candidate.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive. It involved responses from 2,494 employers and 3,976 workers.

Harris said with a 95 percent probability, the results of the survey were accurate with a margin of error of plus and minus 1.96 percentage points.

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