Wal-Mart workers, supporters launch protests

November 24, 2012 

Wal-Mart workers, supporters launch protests

Wal-Mart workers and supporters are protesting at a number of stores nationwide, blasting the wages, benefits and treatment of employees of the world's largest retailer.

The efforts on Thursday and Friday seemed to do little to keep shoppers away though -- the company said it was their best Black Friday ever.

A union-backed group called OUR Walmart says it held an estimated 1000 protests in 46 states. The exact number is unclear. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has refuted the estimate, saying the union has grossly exaggerated its figure and that the protests involved few of its own employees.

The protests and walkouts were scheduled to culminate during the key holiday shopping weekend.

EU summit ends without budget deal agreement

BRUSSELS -- A summit of the European Union's 27 national leaders, charged with agreeing on a long-term budget for the bloc, broke up Friday afternoon without being able to reach a deal.

Coming just days after the 17 eurogroup finance ministers failed, yet again, to agree on the conditions for releasing badly needed bailout money forGreece, the failure of the two-day summit raises questions about how the bloc makes important decisions.

In most cases, unanimity is required, meaning that each country wields veto power.

The EU's top officials, who put in long hours trying to soften up thenational leaders individually before putting them together in the same meeting room, tried to put a brave face on the budget deadlock.

Automakers get smarter about sales incentives

Auto sales have been one of the major bright spots in the U.S. economy all year. But here's the surprising part: Sales have remained strong even as car companies have been spending less on rebates and other incentives to pique consumer interest.

Over the past few months, major auto manufacturers have been steadily paring their spending on incentives, from cash-back offers to subsidized-leasing programs. According to Edmunds.com, the average incentive was $2,124 per vehicle in October. That's down 3.3 percent from September and 1.4 percent below last year's level.

Yet U.S. car sales rose to an annualized rate of 14.4 million -- a healthy clip, even though Hurricane Sandy had put a dent in activity at the end of October. A combination of low interest rates and pent-up demand has kept the car market strong.

"Buyers are ignoring the stagnant incentives and are happily jumping back into the new car market," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds, earlier this month.

-- Herald wire reports

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