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News Wrap: Retail Sales Pick Up in September

October 15, 2010 at 3:57 PM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Retail sales in the U.S. picked up in September, even as inflation slowed. A Commerce Department report showed Americans spent more money on cars, furniture and at hardware stores.

On Wall Street, stocks were mixed on the retail news and the signal from the Fed it would do more to stimulate the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 31 points to close at 11062. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close above 2468. For the week, the Dow gained half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 3 percent.

The former co-founder of Countrywide Financial reached an agreement with federal regulators today to settle civil charges of fraud and insider trading. Angelo Mozilo and two other former executives were set to face trial next week for their roles in the high-risk subprime mortgage crisis. Instead, Mozilo will now pay more than $67 million in penalties. None of the three defendants admitted any wrongdoing.

In Chile, more rescued miners were expected to head home from the hospital today. The first three were released last night, after spending 69 days trapped deep underground. We have a report from Geraint Vincent of Independent Television News.

GERAINT VINCENT: He was very, very late, but Edison Pena finally got back from work last night, and his neighbors had all come over to welcome him home.

“I thought I would never return,” he says. “Thank you very much. Thank you for believing that we were alive.”

The rest are all said to be in remarkably good health, as they recover from the ordeal of their confinement and from being hauled half-a-mile through the ground in a steel tube to be reunited with their families…

(APPLAUSE)

GERAINT VINCENT: … in what was a stunningly successful rescue operation remembered today by the rescue team medic who checked on the miners as they came out of the ground.

CMDR. ANDREAS LLARENA, medical officer, Chilean Navy: The very first thing that they — they would say, it was — they were absolutely happy to be out. Some of them were saying, “I — I never thought that the sky could be so beautiful.”

GERAINT VINCENT: They are still wearing sunglasses while their eyes reacquaint themselves with the brightness of that sky. And a few of them are suffering from tooth and skin infections.

But the biggest problem facing these men, it seems, is the psychological damage wrought by their time underground.

MAN: At least 20, 25 of them are going to need continuous psychological supervision and maybe medication or whatever to treat the complications they had to develop anyway.

GERAINT VINCENT: After all of the fear and the dread, the miners will need time to get used to their triumph. But, in the challenge of the rest of their lives, they will have the support of all Chile.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The remaining miners are expected to be released from the hospital this weekend.

There was a new setback today in the quest to restart Middle East peace talks. The Israeli government approved nearly 240 new building permits in East Jerusalem. That ended an unofficial freeze on new settlement construction. The Palestinians swiftly denounced today’s move, setting off clashes with Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The chief Palestinian negotiator said the action closes all doors on attempts to revive the direct negotiations.

The U.S. is launching an investigation into Chinese trade practices in the clean energy sector. The United Steelworkers union has complained China is illegally subsidizing those industries, against World Trade Organization rules. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the investigation would be vigorous.

Separately, the U.S. Treasury Department delayed the release of its semiannual report on currency practices of China and other trading partners. That defers a decision on whether to brand China a currency manipulator.

There will be no cost of living increase in Social Security benefits

next year for 58 million retirees and disabled Americans. Social Security Administration officials announced that inflation has been too low to warrant any raise. It is the second year in a row there has been no increase.

To make up for it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote in November on a bill to provide $250 payments to Social Security recipients. That move is supported by President Obama, but faces opposition in the Senate.

Swiss engineers smashed their way into the record books today, creating the world’s longest tunnel. Dozens watched as a giant drilling machine broke through the remaining wall of rock. The Gotthard Base Tunnel stretches 35.4 miles underneath the Alps. The process has taken 2,500 workers nearly 20 years to complete. The tunnel is expected to open for rail traffic in 2017 or earlier.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.