COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

The selling got a bit more aggressive on Wall Street yesterday. The Dow Industrials fell another 185 points and have dropped 676 points since last Tuesday's election. Most of the blame for the decline seems to be focused on the fiscal cliff and belief the Obama administration and Congress will not come to an agreement that will avoid a massive increase in taxes and a massive drop in confidence.

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Wal-Mart, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Industrials, has reported disappointing earnings and sales this morning and the stock is trading lower. In discussing the holiday shopping season, CEO Mike Duke said, "Prices will continue to be a major factor for U.S. customers. Across all of our markets, we are seeing the same price consciousness as we do in the United States. More customers are part of the growing global middle class, looking for quality, value and a better life."

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Most of the national media is in a panic this morning over word from the Department of Labor saying initial claims for jobless benefits soared by 78,000 in the last week to 439,000, the highest level in 18 months. The increase is easily explained as people impacted by Superstorm Sandy are now eligible to file for the unemployment benefits. It is likely the report next week will show a big decline.

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Speaking of Sandy, Kelley Blue Book says the impact of the storm on the national new and used car markets may be more modest than had previously suggested. Current estimates say between 200,000 and 300,000 vehicles were destroyed, which represents just 0.1 percent of the more than 240 million registered vehicles on the road. Senior market analyst Alec Gutierrez anticipates used-car prices in the region will go up by $200 to $300 at the most.

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The National Association of Realtors is out with its latest report on real estate trends. It shows the median listed price for homes in San Diego hit $370,878 in October, a 4.5 percent increase over the same month a year ago. At the same time, the active list of homes for sale held steady last month at 9,127 units, however that represents a decline of nearly 35 percent from a year ago. San Diego ranks number 13 on the list of the most searched real estate markets on the NAR website, Realtor.com.

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Starbucks continues its quest for world dominance by expanding its tea operations. It is buying Teavana for $620 million. The all-cash deal gives Starbucks a major position in the global tea market valued at $40 billion a year. There are three Teavana locations in San Diego County at Horton Plaza, Fashion Valley and North County Fair shopping centers.

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