COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Yes, Wall Street is open for business today. The media has been trying all morning to whip up a frenzy, suggesting the handful of Occupy Wall Street protesters had been able to block the start of trading at the NYSE. Well, at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time this morning, business began as usual with the traditional opening ceremonies. What most protesters -- and members of the media -- don't understand is the bulk of trading on all exchanges is done electronically and all the efforts to disrupt access to the NYSE would have little impact on the day-to-day operations.



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The markets are little changed in early trading, as another day of light trading appears to be in the offing. Yesterday things were moving along little changed when Fitch Ratings issued a report saying unless the debt mess in Europe is fixed soon it will bleed over here and impact U.S. banks. No kidding. The news was enough to turns stocks lower in the last hour of trading, taking the Dow down 190 points.



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The Department of Labor said this morning the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 in the past week to 388,000, the lowest level since early April. And, the Commerce Department reported new home building permits in October rose by 10.9 percent to an annualized rate of 653,000 units, the highest level since March 2010.



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If you plan to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend get ready to have plenty of company. The AAA reported today about 42.5 million people plan to travel 50 miles or more away from home this year, an increase of 4 percent over 2010. "More Americans are expected to choose family and friends over frugality," said AAA's Bill Sutherland. Put that in the column of good news for the economy heading into 2012.



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Speaking of Thanksgiving, the folks at Pillsbury say pumpkin pie tops the list of favorite pies this season. Hard to imagine any other pie could possibly be at the top of the list right now. Apple did finish second, with mincemeat at the bottom of the top 10 list. Mincemeat pies are sort of like fruitcakes, always the last thing to go on the Thanksgiving dessert table. By the way, 94 percent of people say they will enjoy a slice of pie sometime during the holidays. You may not have known this but 2011 is actually the Year of the Pie according to the National Restaurant Association. Americans ordered 12 million more slices of pie at restaurant in 2010 than they did in 2009. Pies have become the new cupcake.



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After a $3 million renovation, the J.C. Penney store in the Chula Vista Shopping Center will hold a grand reopening tomorrow with a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. Speaking of opening, the new IHOP Express opens in the Gaslamp this morning. Different from the usual IHOP, this location at 711 Fourth Ave. will feature a walk-up counter with a different menu, including smaller portions. IHOP has opened similar restaurants on college campuses and military bases, but this is the first community eatery in the country.



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So, Tiger Woods has decided to snub the Farmers Insurance Open here in San Diego in January to play in an event in Abu Dhabi. Smart move, Tiger. Considering the way he played yesterday in the first round of the Presidents Cup in Australia, it would be a good idea to go for the guaranteed payment he gets over there compared to the small paycheck he would get paid here when he likely would fail to make the cut. Tiger and his playing partner, Steve Stricker, were the only U.S. team to lose to an international team in the Cup. Local favorite, Phil Mickelson, and his partner, Jim Furyk, won their match and, credit when credit is due, even Hunter Mahan -- not one of my favorite players -- and David Toms also picked up a win for the U.S. team.

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