FINANCE

U.S. consumer prices rose less-than-forecast 0.1% in November

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. — The Labor Department reported Wednesday that the consumer-price index increased 0.1% in November after a 0.2% rise the prior month. The rise was less than forecast, indicating higher prices for commodities such as fuel aren’t filtering through into other goods and services.

The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a gain of 0.2%. The so-called core measure, which excludes more volatile food and energy costs, also rose 0.1%, matching the median forecast.

“Inflation is a non-threat right now, there’s a lot of slack in the economy,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pa., told Bloomberg. “Inflation will remain very subdued and tepid over the next several months.”

The measure of consumer prices was restrained by a second straight drop in new vehicle costs, cheaper household furnishings and a decline in natural gas.

A Labor Department report on Tuesday showed the producer- price index in November increased 0.8% and the cost of goods excluding fuel and food rose 0.3%, both more than forecast. The cost of goods imported into the United States, reported last week, rose 1.3% from the prior month, the most in a year.

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FINANCE

First Data report: Closed-Loop prepaid cards show strong November volume

BY CSA STAFF

Atlanta — First Data Corp. reported Wednesday that dollar volume growth of prepaid card activations was 8.6% in November, a significant increase over November 2009, when activations declined -2.7%.

According to the First Data SpendTrend Closed-Loop Prepaid Cards analysis for the full month of November 2010 compared with November 2009, which tracks U.S. same-merchant activations, redemptions and reloads of merchant-branded prepaid cards, including spending, gift, incentive and promotional cards, activation transaction growth was 10%, a slight decline from the 11.7% growth in October 2010.

As the holiday shopping season commenced, merchants aggressively promoted incentive cards, which improved overall year-over-year dollar volume growth, according to the report.

Year-over-year overall average ticket size of activations declined 1.3%; however, this was a significant improvement over October’s decline of -8%. As consumers shopped for holiday gifts, they increased the initial value of the prepaid closed-loop cards they purchased.

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FINANCE

Costco CEO compensation up in 2010

BY CSA STAFF

Issaquah, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp. reported in a company filing that its president and CEO James Sinegal saw his total compensation rise 29% to $3.5 million for the 2010 fiscal year.

The warehouse club chain kept Sinegal’s salary steady at $350,000 but rewarded him for the company’s improved performance by more than doubling his bonus to $190,400, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For the 2010 fiscal year, Costco reported a 19% profit increase to $1.3 billion, and revenue rose 9.1% to $77.95 billion.

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