Dec. 26 - Stocks rally to record highs as upbeat retail data and a drop in jobless claims limit concerns caused by UPS and FedEx failing to meet Christmas deadlines. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Investors returned from the Christmas holiday with stock buying still on their minds. Blue chips set a record closing high for the sixth consecutive session. A three percent yield on the 10-year note appears to no longer be a big worry for the market. Yields touched that mark for the first time in more than two years without denting stocks. A drop in jobless claims was a positive market factor. Santa is done with his list and early indications are the holiday shopping season was naughty and nice. The nice first. Holiday sales rose 2.3 percent compared to a year ago, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. Now, the naughty. The risk may be greater for Target's 40 million debit and credit card customers whose data were compromised. A senior payments executive says encrypted personal identification numbers were also stolen. And shipping companies UPS and FedEx were so overwhelmed by a surge in late online gift buying that they couldn't deliver all packages in time for Christmas. Apologies and refunds are expected as irate consumers take to social media to vent. Judging from shares of UPS and FedEx, investors were willing to forgive and forget. But consumers may not be as quick, says NPD Group's Marshal Cohen. SOUNDBITE: MARSHAL COHEN, CHIEF INDUSTRY ANALYST, NPD GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What it really does, is it creates a little bit of insecurity in shopping online particularly last minute, so consumers are going to remember next year that there was an issue." Let's look at retail stocks: Amazon.com, which smashed records on Cyber Monday, up for the day. But eBay was noticeably lower. J.C. Penney was a big volume mover on the Big Board; that stock rallied. And with jewelry a top seller - Zale was a winner. BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis is throwing in the towel; cutting his stake to just under five percent and ending an attempt to regain control of the struggling smartphone maker. Shares of BlackBerry were black and blue from a more than 7 percent drop. And in other merger and acquisition news... Softbank is in talks to buy T-Mobile and is looking for cash to make the deal happen, say sources. But it's not alone - speculation that DISH Networks is also interested was making the rounds last week.