HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama's top economic advisers warned today that the looming fiscal cliff may yet hurt holiday sales.
In a new report, they said the prospect of automatic tax increases in 2013 could cause consumers to rein in spending. The report came as Congress returned to work. Lawmakers are under pressure to strike a deficit deal, preventing the tax hikes and deep spending cuts.
Wall Street's week got off to an uncertain start, partly over concerns that strong holiday sales won't last. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 42 points to close at 12,967. The Nasdaq managed about a 10-point gain to close at 2,976.
The woman who helped steer the government's regulatory response to the 2008 financial crisis is stepping down. Mary Schapiro announced today she's resigning as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission after nearly four years. President Obama has designated SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter to replace Schapiro, effective Dec. 14.
In Bangladesh, thousands of people protested today over a deadly fire at a factory that makes garments. At least 112 people died in the Saturday night blaze on the outskirts of Dhaka, the country's capital. Today, crowds of textile workers demanded justice and improved working conditions. They accused management of putting production quotas ahead of people's lives.
MAHAMUDUL HAQUE, garment supervisor (through translator): When the fire alarm was raised, our factory manager, quality manager, assistant production manager told us nothing has happened. Get back to your work. The next moment, flames of fire blew up. Everybody died, everyone. How can we deal with this?
HARI SREENIVASAN: That factory has supplied clothing to Wal-Mart, Ikea, and other Western retailers. Another fire broke out today at a second factory, also in Dhaka. This time, no casualties were reported.
Members of the M23 rebel force in Eastern Congo focused today on consolidating their gains. The rebels ignored a call by an African regional group to withdraw from the city of Goma, where they took control last week.
Government forces have pulled back to Minova trying to regroup. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting for makeshift camps in the countryside. Aid workers are struggling to provide them with food, clean water, and shelter. The U.N. accuses the neighboring states of Rwanda and Uganda of secretly backing the rebels, a charge those countries deny.
The estimated damage done by Hurricane Sandy in New York has risen again to $42 billion. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the new figure today. It includes $32 billion for repairs and restoration and almost $10 billion more for measures to prevent damage from the next major storm. The state, along with New York City, will ask for federal disaster aid based on the damage tally.
One of the legendary bands of rock 'n' roll is marking its golden anniversary. The Rolling Stones celebrated 50 years last night in London, with the first of five shows in the U.K. and the U.S.
Nina Nannar of Independent Television News filed this report.
NINA NANNAR: Two-and-a-half-hours, 23 songs, and 50 years.
NINA NANNAR: And, thankfully for the Rolling Stones, glowing reviews on this, the opening night of their mini-anniversary tour.
The men have a combined age of 273 years. But on stage last night, they were clearly enjoying their trip down memory lane. Even Jagger's joke about the controversial ticket prices, "How you doing in the cheap seats?" he asked, didn't spoil the mood of fans who had come from all over the world.
MAN: Amazing. I came all the way from Australia, "Midnight Rambler" the best ever.
WOMAN: I don't know what it cost. My husband bought me the ticket, but, yes, it was worth it for me.
WOMAN: I just found that absolutely amazing.
NINA NANNAR: And even though last night there was no "Satisfaction," the band ran out of time, the fans were clearly more than satisfied.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Those are some of the day's major stories.