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Sandy threatens holiday shopping; Toyota triples profits; HSBC faces criminal charges; U.S. adds 171,000 jobs; Apple launches iPad Mini

Retail: Sandy threatens holiday shopping 
Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath could put a major dent in what was predicted to be a “rosy holiday shopping season,” said Dana Hunsinger Benbow in The Indianapolis Star.The states directly hit by last week’s super-storm account for about 16 percent of all holiday spending nationwide, said retail expert Richard Feinberg, who this week downgraded his prediction of a 4 percent increase in holiday retail sales this year to between 2 and 3 percent. Department stores, toy retailers, and apparel shops will fare the worst. “Consumers will be suffering from what we might call post-Sandy traumatic stress,” he said, “which will lower their inclination to spend.” 

The storm hit retailers “at a crucial time,” said Stephanie Clifford and Nelson D. Schwartz in The New York Times. Shuttered shipping terminals, submerged warehouses, closed roads, and scarce gasoline have caused delaysjust when retailers expected their final shipments for the holiday shopping season. While some of New York’s marine terminals have reopened, retailers rangingfrom Amazon to Diane von Furstenberg have warned customers of delayed orders because of the backup. “Things are slowing down,” said Chris Merritt of the trucking company Ryder. “This whole part of the supply chain is clogged up.” 

Autos: Toyota triples profits
In the biggest sign yet that it is recovering from last year’s tsunami and floods in Asia, Toyota said it tripled its global net earnings to $3.2 billion last quarter, compared with the same period last year, said Chris Woodyard in USA Today. Though sales fell in China due to a territorial spat with Japan, strong sales in North America more than made up the difference. Toyota sold 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S., an increase of 572,000 over a year before.The company is now “on a pace to reclaim the crown of world’s No. 1–selling automaker from General Motors.” 

Banking: HSBC faces criminal charges
HSBC said it expects to face criminal charges and record fines as a result of U.S. anti-money-laundering investigations, said Howard Mustoe and Gavin Finch in Businessweek.com. The London-based bank set aside a total of $1.5 billion for a settlement with regulators, but said that it believes fines may be “significantly higher” than it had planned for. A U.S. Senate committee report in July alleged that the bank’s controls against money laundering were insufficient, allowing drug barons and terrorists to launder billions of dollars in illicit funds. 

Economy: U.S. adds 171,000 jobs
The U.S. economy added an estimated 171,000 jobs in October, according to a Labor Department report released last week, said Adam Sorensen in Time.com. The employment survey also revised August and September totals upward, adding some 84,000 previously unreported jobs. It was the second monthly report in a row to include large positive revisions, “erasing concerns that surfaced in August that the recovery had ground to a halt.” Historically, such a pattern of revisions suggests that we could see improvements in “all sorts of economic figures in the coming months,” indicating “a recovery with real momentum.”

Tech: Apple launches iPad Mini
Apple said it sold 3 million tablets in the three days following its launch last week of the new iPad Mini, said theAssociated Press, but it didn’t say how many of them were Minis. That sales figure compares with the 1.5 million WiFi-only iPads sold when Apple launched the third-generation iPad in March. Priced at $329 and up, Apple’s newest iPad is a third smaller than the full-size model, which was updated last week with a faster processor and a better camera. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company’s stock of iPad Minis was “practically sold out.”

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