A Week's Worth

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If the Dow Jones Industrial Average picks up this week where it left off Friday, it seems poised to crack 11,000 - a level not seen since June 7, 2001. The Dow closed at 10,931, fueled, analysts said, by five straight weeks of positive economic indices, a spirited opening of the holiday shopping season, and by signs that the Federal Reserve finally may be finished hiking interest rates.

Broad smiles might be seen on the faces of Visa USA executives after use of the company's credit cards on Day One of the Christmas shopping season jumped 14 percent over last year. Total sales: just under $4 billion.

Another increase in the percentage of Americans who'll shop online for Christmas appears imminent, according to the Conference Board. Based on a survey of 5,000 households, it predicted a one-point rise (to 34 percent) over last year, with most customers planning to buy books, clothing, or shoes. Of those who bought via the Internet in 2004, 94 percent reported being satisfied with the experience.

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Even though tales of age discrimination in the workplace keep coming, a new Hudson Highland Group survey found that more than twice as many employers encourage older staffers to stay as opposed to those that push early retirement to free up slots for younger people. That's the case whether a company is large or small, too - usually because a veteran's experience and "institutional knowledge" are too valuable to forfeit. Hudson is a leading resource in the staffing solutions field.

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