Wednesday morning headlines

Stocks keep struggling: With concerns about Washington's fiscal cliff, investors are just not in a buying mood. Dow is down 60 points.

Dip in retail sales: October's 0.3 percent decline, following three months of increases, might have been partly related to Hurricane Sandy. From AP:

Most economists said they thought the storm overall held back sales. Still, they noted that consumers showed signs of cutting back on spending before the weather disrupted business. "Looking past (Sandy's) impact, U.S. consumers appeared to dial it back a notch," said Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. "There was relatively broad-based weakness in this report."

Cap-and-trade debuts: Today is the first auction of carbon credits, part of the state's controversial 2006 climate-change law. From the OC Register:

Each of the businesses participating in the program - refineries, cement makers, large food processors, electricity providers - starts out with 90 percent of its emissions credits, or "allowances," provided for free. But over the years, an overall cap on the total emissions allowed for carbon dioxide ratchets down tighter and tighter. That's the "cap" part of cap and trade. As it drops, the cap should drive up the price of emissions credits. Businesses that are comfortably within carbon dioxide limits can sell their credits; those whose emissions exceed allowed amounts can purchase credits.

Hub-bub over Microsoft departure: Steven Sinofsky, who oversaw the development of Windows 8, had been seen as likely to succeed CEO Steve Ballmer. What happened? From the NYT:

Sinofsky was widely admired for his effectiveness in running one of the biggest and most important software development organizations on the planet. But his departure, which Microsoft announced late on Monday, parallels in many respects that of Scott Forstall, the headstrong former head of Apple's mobile software development, who was fired by Apple's chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, in late October. Both cases underscore a quandary that chief executives sometimes face: when do the costs of keeping brilliant leaders who cannot seem to get along with others outweigh the benefits?

Eisner gets movie deal: Through his Tornante production company, the former Disney CEO has reached a multiyear distribution deal with Universal. As part of the agreement, Universal will market and distribute movies financed by Tornante. (LAT)

High deductibles becoming popular: More employers are opting for plans that have their workers shell out $2,000 or more in medical costs before they receive insurance benefits. (LAT)

More by Mark Lacter:
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Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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