U.S. retail sales in November rose three-tenths percent. They rose somewhat more -- half a percent -- if you strip out gas, cars and building materials -- three categories particularly affected by Superstorm Sandy. For November, teasing out the impact of Sandy from the bigger trends in consumer spending is no simple task.
New claims for unemployment fell last week -- that makes almost a full month of steady declines. Prices, as reported by U.S. producers, fell in November, thanks largely to a drop in the price of energy. The founder of Best Buy plans to make an offer to buy back control of the electronics retailer by the end of the week. According to the company's hometown paper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the bid will top $5 billion.
We've been covering this week's passage of "right-to-work" legislation in Michigan -- it's considered a major blow to labor unions in the home state of the United Auto Workers. Earlier today Marketplace heard from Michigan's Republican Governor, Rick Snyder. We asked about worries the change could reduce union membership and hurt wages for middle-class people.
"This is giving unions an opportunity to be more responsive to workers. Because in many respects, it should give a situation where unions can't just assume workers are automatically putting in their dollars. If they show a valued proposition, they can join. The other thing is most jobs are non-unionized already. Even in Michigan."
But how American's are reacting to Michigan's "right-to-work" law and a few other items in the news. Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport breaks down the numbers.
European finance ministers have struck what they call an historic deal over the debt crisis. They have agreed the European Central Bank -- Europe's equivalent of the Fed -- should become the principal overseer of the continent's biggest banks. And elsewhere around the world, China's new leader Xi Jinping is launching a big anti-corruption campaign and promising economic reforms.
There's a new and maybe not-so-welcome arrival in the Apple App Store: Late yesterday, Google Maps for iPhone became available. You might recall that Apple recently dumped Google Maps from its devices in favor of its own map program, which has had a rocky reception to say the least. Now Google Maps is back, and the battle is on. This is a gadget-story to be sure, but there's also a lot of money at stake.
And finally, the Murphy's Law of big technology debut events is that when the magic button is pressed, something will inevitably go wrong. It's happened to Apple, it's happened to Microsoft, and so it was yesterday with the Pope. The masses had assembled at the Vatican and TV cameras were rolling for Pope Benedict to send his first tweet. He put his finger to the iPad placed in front of him and...nothing. The Pope's looking at this thing in confusion, waiting for something to happen. Evidently he was pressing too hard -- he's not exactly a regular iPad user. A more experienced Archbishop stepped in with the right touch, and out went the first papal blessing:
"Dear Friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."