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Nov. 30, 2012 at 1:59 PM
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Markets slip on spending report

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks slipped Friday as the Commerce Department said consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in October.

Personal incomes and disposable incomes were both flat in the month. The Bureau of Economic Analysis said Hurricane Sandy disrupted work, which derailed payroll gains that may have turned into spending.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was flat, dropping 13.36 points or 0.1 percent to 13,008.46. The Nasdaq was off 5.60 points or 0.19 percent to 3,006.43 The Standard & Poor's 500 dipped 1.72 points or 0.19 percent to 1,14.23.

The 10-year treasury note was flat yielding 1.618 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3002 from Thursday's $1.2979. The dollar rose to 82.5 yen from 82.12 yen.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.48 percent, 45.13 points, to 9,446.01.

Britain's FTSE 100 index dropped 0.06 percent, 3.48 points, to 5,866.82.

Consumer spending dipped in October

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. consumer spending -- with disposable income flat -- fell 0.2 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Consumers spent $20.2 billion less than they did in the previous month as incomes rose by $400 million, a gain of less than 0.1 percent, and disposable income increased by $800 million, also less than 0.1 percent.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said Hurricane Sandy disrupted jobs, which caused a dip in payroll figures.

"The October decrease in private wages and salaries reflected work interruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy, which reduced wages and salaries by $18.2 billion at an annual rate," the bureau said.

Payrolls at goods-producing companies fell by $3.6 billion while service-oriented firms experienced a $13.5 billion drop in payroll expenses.

Wages and salaries rose in the public sector by $100 million, a fraction of the $1.7 billion gain in the previous month.

By comparison, incomes rose by 0.4 percent in September, or by $47.8 billion. Consequently, spending in September rose 0.8 percent, or by $84 billion, the bureau said, releasing revised figures.

DuPont breaks ground on Iowa ethanol plant

NEVADA, Iowa, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Ground was broken in Iowa Friday for a new ethanol plant that DuPont says will be among the largest cellulosic processing facilities in the world.

The $200 million plant in the town of Nevada, Iowa, will be completed in 2014 and will be able to produce about 30 million gallons of ethanol from corn leaves, stalks and other plant material left behind after harvest.

DuPont said in a written statement it would use waste material known as stover gathered from cornfields within a 30-mile radius of the plant rather than actual ears of corn. The project will create about 60 jobs at the plant and an estimated 130 for the collection process.

"By leveraging DuPont Pioneer corn production expertise and designing an integrated technology platform, we've built an affordable and sustainable entry point into this new industry. We're committed to continued productivity gains to drive costs down even further for the coming generations of plants, ones based on corn stover as well as other feedstocks," said James Collins, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences.

The ethanol industry called the new plant a significant step forward in the development of biofuels because it signaled that major companies such as DuPont saw the potential of cellulosic ethanol.

"It is also worth noting that DuPont is co-locating its plant next to Lincolnway Energy, a locally-owned, traditional ethanol plant," Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said in a written statement. "The IRFA continues to believe that the synergies between existing corn ethanol plants and next generation ethanol plants are clear and compelling."

Judge approves Hostess bonuses

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Executives at Hostess Brands overseeing the liquidation of the company will get a total of $1.75 million in bonuses, a U.S. bankruptcy judge said Thursday.

Judge Robert Drain approved the liquidation plan, CNN reported. The plan includes bonuses ranging from $7,400 to $130,500 for 19 executives and additional pay for rank-and-file employees involved in closing down the company.

Drain said Greg Rayburn, the new chief executive officer who will oversee the liquidation, has declined a bonus.

Paul Carroll, a former mechanic, drove from Kentucky to testify at the hearing. He said the company should meet its pension obligations to its employees and said it was management that "brought us down further."

The 88-year-old company created iconic junk food brands such as Hostess Twinkies. It filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and then again in January.

Managers decided to liquidate after the bakers union refused to accept cuts in pay and benefits and went on strike.

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