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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Dow Up Slightly in Quiet Opening

Wall Street stepped tentatively this morning into its second short week.

In the first 15 minutes of trading, the Dow is essentially flat, up about four points.

The S&P 500 is up by the same margin and the Nasdaq is off about three points.

In other news, war is bad for people but good for oil producers, at least a limited regional conflict, apparently.

Oil jumped above $40 per barrel this morning thanks to the widening conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza and indications that OPEC nations are preparing to cut back production to bolster oil prices. (The Ticker was in Charlotte, N.C., over the weekend and saw gas for $1.40 per gallon.)

Also, why should you care if a British clothing retailer is on the brink of bankruptcy? Because it could be a bellweather for U.S. retailers as they pass through the wood-chipper that was the holiday season.

Adams Childrenswear, a 75-year-old U.K. retailer, is heading toward bankruptcy, crippled by the ongoing crisis. The U.S. leads developed nations in consumer spending -- 70 percent of the U.S. GDP is based on it -- but the U.K. is not far behind, No. 2, in fact, at 63 percent.

A number of big-name U.S. retailers may not make it far into the New Year and may end up following Adams's lead. You all saw the deep discounts over the holiday shopping season.

On a personal note, the Ticker is back today, rested and ready (but not tanned) to jump right back into this global financial crisis. The Ticker would like to thank its excellent colleagues -- Kim Hart, Mike Rosenwald and Terri Rupar -- for filling in in his absence.

-- Frank Ahrens
The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 29, 2008; 9:49 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Dow Jones, oil  
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