Nov 9 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street rises and falls as President Obama discusses the fiscal cliff; U.S. consumer sentiment hits five-year high; J.C. Penney continues to struggle with turnaround. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street barely snaps a nasty two-day fall.. All three major market gauges ending slightly to the upside in a volatile session. The Dow is down three consecutive weeks and the Nasdaq is down five. Friday's fickleness blamed on Washington. President Obama took to the airwaves to announce he invited leaders from both political parties to a meeting next week to discuss ways to avoid the $600 billion fiscal cliff. But that did not inspire confidence in Ben Willis of Albert Fried & Co. SOUNDBITE: BEN WILLIS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ALBERT FRIED (PRONOUNCED FREED) & CO. (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Personally, I would love to see a media blackout from every congressman, senator, and the President of the United States until they come and say 'by the way, you guys we have an announcement to make, turn on your cameras and we are going to tell you how we settled it,' until then don't put them on air because the markets hate it, it's not fair to the United States, it's not fair to our credit ratings, it's not fair to what it does around the world." Aside from politics, consumer sentiment reached a five-year high in early November, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. And Priceline - the name-your-price travel website is buying Kayak Software in a $1.8 billion deal. Kayak, an aggregator of travel websites, is attractive because of its strength in the mobile travel app market. Shares of Priceline were down slightly on fear the company will scare away other Kayak clients like Orbitz and Expedia, but shares of Kayak closed at their highest point since going public in July. J.C. Penney still struggling with its turnaround plan. The department store retailer saw its biggest drop in same-store sales since CEO Ron Johnson revealed a radical transformation plan, although there was sign of success. On to Europe now, where markets were mixed as investors wait for what happens next in Greece.