A week's worth

• Santa or Scrooge? All eyes are on shoppers as the holidays approach. After a summer buying binge, helped along by those tax-rebate checks, consumers slowed their spending in September and October. And it's not clear how far they'll loosen their purse strings as the Christmas retail season begins. On the plus side, consumer sentiment has risen to a better than expected 93.5, a University of Michigan survey notes. But a Purdue University retailing expert cautions that sales should jump 2 to 3 percent, not 6 percent, as some forecasts suggest. One factor: gasoline prices. Every increase of 5 cents a gallon means $5 less that consumers will have to spend on Christmas gifts.

• Holiday tip: Stick with turkey. Wholesale prices of beef and veal rose 18.3 percent last month, the biggest jump since 1974, the Labor Department reports.

• Commuters who smile: They prefer the bus or subway to driving, according to a survey released by WageWorks Center for Commuter Studies. Mass-transit users say they exercise their minds and bodies more, feel more relaxed, and believe they are having a positive impact on the environment. Favorite activity onboard: reading.

• Religious investors: Contrary to some stereotypes, they look at a wide range of issues beyond, say, pornography or abortion. Their top five ethics concerns when evaluating a business: use of sweatshops, product-safety record, level of CEO pay, environmental record, and involvement in adult entertainment, according to a recent survey released by MMA (Mennonite Mutual Aid) and its MMA Praxis Mutual Funds.

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