December 1st, 2008
10:27 AM ET

Do you feel like a Cyborg today?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/01/art.cybermonday.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Happy "Cyber Monday" everyone! It's a designation coined by the retail industry for the first Monday after Thanksgiving, when workers return to their desks after the long holiday weekend and start clicking away at Websites ranging from Amazon to Zappos in search of one-day discounts free shipping offers. There will definitely be a spike in online sales today, but the busiest day is usually the last day to get things shipped in time for Christmas, which is about two weeks before the holiday.

Stores and online merchants were busier this weekend than they were a year ago, according to figures out Sunday, but signs persist that holiday shopping will suffer in the weakest economic climate in decades. The National Retail Federation says shoppers spent $41 billion over the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. The average shopper spent $372.57, up 7.2% from the $347.55 spent last year. But there are fewer shopping days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than last year, so shopping was disproportionately heavy.

The bottom line: the NRF reiterated its forecast that 2008 holiday spending will rise just 2.2%, to $470.4 billion, the smallest gain in six years. Although sales were up it's not clear what the profits were as many items were deeply discounted over the weekend.

Speaking of shopping. how much does it cost this year to buy everything from a single partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming? Try $86,609. That's the price tag for the items in the carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The price is up $8,508 or 10.9%, from $78,100 last year.

Stocks kicked off December on a rough note this morning as investors take a second look at Black Friday sales amid concerns about the global economic slowdown.

Gas prices fell 0.5 cents to $1.820 a gallon. That's the 75th consecutive decrease. According to AAA, the last time the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was near the current price was January 20, 2005, when the national average was $1.825. 3 states and Washington D.C. have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. 47 states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2.

Oil prices are down more than $3 a barrel this morning after OPEC said it would wait until its next scheduled meeting in mid-December to take action against falling prices. Crude is trading around $51 a barrel. OPEC held an emergency meeting in Cairo this weekend to discuss the global decline in demand that has driven crude prices down more than $95 a barrel from a record high of $147.27 in July.

Also today, Construction Spending for October came in below expectations. And the Institute of Supply Management Index, or ISM, for November - a key gauge of the nation's manufacturing activity - tumbled to a reading of 36.2% in November. That's a 26-year low. Any reading below 41 is considered a sign that the economy is in recession.

Treasury Secretary Paulson will deliver an update on the economy and the markets Monday at the Fortune 500 Forum in Washington. The forum brings together business leaders, policy experts and government representatives to discuss the current and future business climate. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke addresses the Texas Chamber of Commerce in Austin this afternoon and we will bring in tape.

The Bush Administration reportedly backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. Administration officials reportedly ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to a review of regulatory documents by the Associated Press.

When the CEOs of Detroit's Big Three flew their private jets to Washington last month in search of a $25 billion federal bailout, lawmakers sent them home empty-handed – telling them they had until tomorrow to come up with a detailed plan of how they would spend the money. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that General Motors' management on Sunday was racing to finalize a viability plan to take to Congress, with a boardroom hell-bent on securing a federal rescue loan. But at the same time, directors - unlike chief executive Rick Wagoner - are also insisting that all options stay on the table, including a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, if a bailout doesn't come through.

It appears even Donald Trump isn't immune from the economic crisis. Trump Entertainment will miss a $53 million interest payment due today on notes related to its Atlantic City casinos. The company is separate from Donald Trump's private holdings. Last month, Trump Entertainment reported a third-quarter loss of $139 million.

And Deutsche Bank is suing Donald Trump over this troubled Chicago condominium and hotel project - a further sign of the deteriorating situation among lenders and borrowers in commercial real estate. The suit, filed in Manhattan on Friday, demands Trump pay a $40 million personal guarantee connected to a $640 million construction loan that Deutsche Bank originated in 2005. That loan came due Nov. 7 with an outstanding balance of $334 million.

No Energy Fix today through Wednesday. The Fix is scheduled to return Thursday. So for today, happy clicking!

Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Gisselle - Houston, Texas

    Oh yea, I just finished doing my online Christmas shopping, got the list, checked it twice and I saved a bundle on free shipping and extra 25-40% with several retailers all of the items purchased.

    This is better than Black Friday and it was worth the wait!

    But the best part is, I saved gas, time and I wasn't stressed living the comfort of my bed to do all of this.

    Boy do I love Cyberspace or what?

    Gotta love it!

    December 1, 2008 at 2:02 pm |