STOCKS NEWS US-Holiday sales may be down 4 pct -SpendingPulse

Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:12pm GMT

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U.S. stock market report [.N] 0905 ET 26Dec2008-Holiday sales may be down 4 pct -SpendingPulse ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

U.S. retail sales fell by as much as 4 percent during the holiday season, according to data from SpendingPulse. Sales were hurt as the economic crisis and weather problems kept consumers away from stores.

Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors, described the retail environment as "one of the most challenging... we've ever had in modern times." [ID:nN25540616]

Reuters Messaging: ryan.vlastelica.reuters.com@reuters.net 0736 ET 26Dec2008-Crude oil rallies after Wednesday's drop ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

February crude futures rose on Friday, following a steep 9.3 percent dive on Wednesday, the previous trading day for the contract. The commodity was pressured on Wednesday after a government report showed an unexpected drop in crude oil inventories in the U.S.

The contract rose 2.8 percent to $36.33 on Friday.

Reuters Messaging: ryan.vlastelica.reuters.com@reuters.net 0715 ET 26Dec2008-GMAC gets approval to become bank holding company ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GMAC, an auto finance company that is partially owned by General Motors (GM.N) late Wednesday won approval to become a bank holding company, a move that will give it access to government lending programs that will help it stave of bankruptcy. [ID:nN24278654]

Shares of GM, a Dow component, rose 7.4 percent to $3.49 before the bell on Friday.

Reuters Messaging: ryan.vlastelica.reuters.com@reuters.net 0710 ET 26Dec2008-Citigroup to raise capital for Korea unit: source ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Citigroup (C.N) will raise capital for its South Korean unit, in a move to lift the divison's capital ratio, a source from the bank said Friday. The source said details for the plan to replenish capital would be announced next week.

The amount of capital that will be provided wasn't disclosed, but financial news outlook Yonhap Infomax put the figure at $400 million to $500 million. [ID:nSEO306464]

Shares of Citigroup, a Dow component, closed Wednesday at $7.52. 0704 ET 26Dec2008-Futures flat on day after Christmas ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

U.S. index futures were flat on Friday, the day after the Christmas holiday, which is traditionally a slow day for the market. Investors will be keeping an eye on news coming from Asia, the the Nikkei recently hit a 6-week high, boosted by improved risk appetites, while output in Japan slumped, with Korea forecasting a crisis. [ID:nSP259955]

Dow Jones industrial average futures .DJc1 rose 7 points while S&P 500 futures .SPc1 added 3.5 points and Nasdaq 100 futures .NDc1 gained 4.75 points.

Reuters Messaging: ryan.vlastelica.reuters.com@reuters.net 0702 ET 26Dec2008-Economic indicators for Dec. 26 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Economic indicators on tap for Friday includes weekly ECRI data.

Reuters Messaging: ryan.vlastelica.reuters.com@reuters.net 0700 ET 26Dec2008-Earnings diary for Dec. 26 ---------------------------------------------------------------- There are no companies scheduled to report quarterly results on Friday.

Reuters Messaging: ryan.vlastelica.reuters.com@reuters.net