Cyber Monday sales still on top, but losing some luster
NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers traded bricks for clicks on Monday, flocking online to snap up "Cyber Monday" deals.
However, the 10-year-old shopping holiday has lost some of its luster as online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday have increased. But enough shoppers have been trained to look for "Cyber Monday" specific sales to ensure the holiday will still mean big bucks for retailers.
It's too early for sales figures, but Monday is still expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, likely racing up more than $3 billion in sales, according to comScore.
IMF adds China's yuan to basket of top currencies
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Chinese yuan will join a basket of the world's leading currencies, the International Monetary Fund announced Monday.
The yuan will joins the U.S. dollar, euro, Japanese yen and the British pound as one of the currencies used for the global organization's Special Drawing Rights, which serves as a standard for dealing with the financial reserves of its 188 member governments.
Currency traders and economists say the move should encourage the government in Beijing to deliver on promises to make the yuan freely tradable and to open up its financial system. The country has historically pegged its currency to the dollar, giving it an advantage in exporting goods to the United States.
World leaders gather to try to save Earth from overheating
LE BOURGET, France (AP) — With dramatic vows to save future generations from an overheated planet, the largest gathering ever of world leaders began two weeks of talks Monday aimed at producing the most far-reaching pact yet to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and avert environmental havoc.
Even before the gathering, more than 180 countries pledged to cut or curb their emissions, but scientific analyses show that much bigger reductions would be needed to limit man-made warming of the Earth to 2 degrees Centigrade (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times, the internationally agreed-upon goal.
The biggest issue facing the 151 heads of state and government at the summit is who should bear most of the burden of closing that gap: wealthy Western nations that have polluted the most historically, or developing countries like China and India that are now the biggest and third-biggest emitters of greenhouse gases?
Fed moves to bar bailouts of failing firms
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials have moved to prevent the central bank from bailing out failing companies, a power it exercised during the 2008 financial crisis.
The Fed governors voted 5-0 Monday at a public meeting to downsize the Fed's emergency lending powers.
Only broad lending programs designed to revive frozen markets — not loans to individual firms — will be allowed. The Fed spent about $2 trillion on such a program to ease a credit crunch during the financial meltdown, aiming to spark lending to consumers and small businesses.
Ford to book $600M 4Q expense for new labor contract
DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. will book a $600 million charge in the fourth quarter for signing bonuses paid to union workers under a new four-year contract.
But the company said Monday that the deal with the United Auto Workers limits labor cost increases to 1.5 percent per year and is consistent with its full-year financial guidance. Ford is forecasting a pretax profit of between $8.5 billion and $9.5 billion this year.
The new contract gives raises to all of Ford's 53,000 U.S. hourly workers and eliminates a two-tier wage system at its plants over eight years.
Giving and getting grief: For the rich, increasingly common
To give is to gain a heap of grief if you're a mega-rich donor these days.
In recent months, a hedge fund billionaire was denounced for his $400 million gift to Harvard, David Geffen took flak for gifts that got his name on a concert hall and a school, and the wife of a Wall Street banker was roasted for trying to put her name on a small college.
Experts who track philanthropy say the spate of indignation this year is not surprising as indignation against the so-called 1 percent grows.
How can people safely take control from a self-driving car?
LOS ANGELES (AP) — New cars that can steer and brake themselves risk lulling people in the driver's seat into a false sense of security — and even to sleep. One way to keep people alert may be providing distractions that are now illegal.
That was one surprising finding when researchers put Stanford University students in a simulated self-driving car to study how they reacted when their robo-chauffer needed help. The elimination of distracted driving is a major selling point for the technology.
But in the Stanford experiment, reading or watching a movie helped keep participants awake.
Amazon gives drone details, still mum on timeline
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is giving new details on its Prime Air drone delivery program, but the timeline is still unclear.
The retailer says Prime Air will one day deliver packages up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less using small drones. The drones will fly under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds, according to details posted on its website Sunday. It says it will use technology and automation to operate safely.
Amazon.com Inc. said program will start once government regulations are in place to support it but set no date.
Info on 5 million VTech customers and kids exposed in breach
NEW YORK (AP) — Kid's technology maker VTech says the personal information of about 5 million of its customers and their children may have been stolen by hackers.
The Hong Kong-based company disclosed the breach of a customer database late last week, but didn't say how many people could be affected until Monday.
The affected database includes the names, birthdates and genders of child users. It also includes adult user information including names, email addresses, passwords, secret questions and answers for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses and download histories.
'12 Days of Christmas' items top $34K, up 0.6 percent
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The cost the gifts listed in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is $34,131 this year, according to the 32nd annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index released Monday.
The index is a whimsical way the Pittsburgh-based bank tracks inflation. That is a 0.6 percent more than the adjusted 2014 price of $33,933.
PNC decided to adjust the historic prices of turtle doves and swans after realizing the prices quoted by vendors didn't reflect the birds' overall value on the open market over the years.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 78.57 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 17,719.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 9.70 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,080.41 and the Nasdaq composite lost 18.86 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,108.67.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 6 cents to $41.65 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 25 cents to close at $44.61 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 3.2 cents to $1.359 a gallon, heating oil fell 1.6 cents to $1.337 a gallon and natural gas rose 2.3 cents to $2.235 per 1,000 cubic feet.