COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Another attempt to rally stocks failed yesterday as investors simply lack faith that Congress and the Obama administration will come up with an effective plan to deal with the fiscal cliff. Up about 75 points in early trading yesterday, the Dow Industrials wound up with a loss of 59 points to 12,756, the fourth decline in the past five sessions. The index has now declined 6.27 percent since hitting its high for the year -- 13,610 -- on Oct. 5. Investors are waiting to hear from the president later this morning when he holds a press conference to discuss a variety of issues.

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There are no big surprises in today’s economic news. Retail sales fell 0.3 percent in October as Superstorm Sandy impacted spending. Car sales, in particular, were sharply lower during the month. Inflation at the wholesale level declined 0.2 percent last month as energy prices declined. It was the biggest drop in 18 months. You may remember sales had gone up sharply in September as gasoline prices spiked higher. So it was no shocker to see the producer price index drop in October as prices at the pump declined. The consumer price index for October will be released tomorrow.

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The big surprise today is Facebook. Shares are up $1.75 -- 8.8 percent -- at the start of trading today. That takes the price to $21.60, the highest level in some time. Most observers had been concerned the release of some 800 million shares of Facebook stock from the lockup period following the IPO might put some downward pressure on the stock. This just shows you how inexact the financial markets can be.

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Small business retailers are feeling pretty good about the holidays. A survey by FedEx finds four out of 10 small business owners expect to see higher revenues during the shopping season this year. However, 63 percent say they remain concerned about the overall economy and 45 percent say their biggest challenge is competing with big retailers.

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An online petition has received more than 200,000 signatures by people who want Target to reverse its plan to open stores at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Probably most of the people signing the petition are Wal-Mart workers and other retailers who would just as soon keep the Target stores closed. The main complaint seems to be that Target workers are being torn away from their families to come in and work. In reality, I would think most of them would gladly come in and get paid time-and-a-half as well as other bonuses. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would like to take their place.

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A new electric vehicle consumer survey finds fewer people -- just 35 percent -- are interested in owning a plug-in electric vehicle. The report from Pike Research finds 37 percent disagree that electric vehicles are cheaper to operate than traditional cars, and the same percent believe the batteries in EVs are unsafe.

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Speaking of electric vehicles, the Tesla Model S has been selected as the Car of the Year by Motor Trend. The Model S is one hot looking car that gets 160 miles per charge. It is pretty expensive, with prices ranging between $59,00 and $95,000.

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