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Stock Market Boost; Holiday Shopping Frenzy on Black Friday; Furious Egyptians March on Cairo

Aired November 23, 2012 - 13:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Looking at the closing bell right now. The market closing a little early today because of the holiday, and they're getting a little company there from some kids. It's been children's day. A lot of folks there at the New York Stock Exchange bringing their kids to work, and they got a little help from some story book characters and another recognizable character to the retail industry. You've got Babar the elephant there on the right, and then you've got Yeti at Saks Fifth Avenue there on the left. The Dow closing up, 171 points at $13,008.76.

Hello, everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in for Suzanne Malveaux. We've got a lot to bring you today. Alison Kosik is also at the New York Stock Exchange. Lots of excitement there on the market. Investors seem to be very encouraged by the start of the holiday retail shopping season with Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving day in some places.


WHITFIELD: How did all that factor in?

KOSIK: And, yes, and you see that playing out in the numbers, the Dow up 172 points today. Now that the market is closing, sure, investors are pretty encouraged so far by those crowds coming out for those Black Friday sales. And we saw the retail sector get a nice pop today, looking at Wal-Mart shares up almost two percent today. Target shares, Best Buy shares all up more than one percent as well. But you know what? We're going to get a better idea of how these stores did next month when some of these sales results really come rolling in.

And then, of course, when fourth quarter earnings season comes in, we'll be looking at those sales numbers as well. But as far as the bottom market goes, you know what? What pretty decent gains to end the week. There have been lots of -- lots of bumpy trading days in the past few days, worried about the fiscal cliff, about renewed -- worries about Europe and their debt crisis there. Those have had investors on edge but, today, it looks like investors focusing on the positive, they're focusing on shopping -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Oh, OK. That's good. I know you said already it's going to be a few days before we really know how successful this Black Friday was, but, initially, do people feel, you know, fairly, I guess, encouraged that this might be a better year than last? Is anyone willing to take that kind of stab? KOSIK: Yes, they are. They're taking a stab at it saying, you know what? Sales estimates seem to be better this year than last year already, more shoppers out there plus more hours to shop should equal higher sales. The NDP Group expects total Black Friday sales to rise this year between two percent and three percent compared to last year. A big part of that, really, is online shopping. That's a huge component. Early numbers from IBM about that online shopping shows sales online are already up more --


KOSIK: -- than 18 percent from a year ago, and consumers shopping from a mobile device reached a new record. So, it really looks like a good start to the holiday shopping season. Black Friday, you have to remember, is traditionally the biggest -- the busiest shopping day of the year, but more importantly, it's important for retailers because, Fredricka, it can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales in the November through December period.

WHITFIELD: Wow. And then you said on-line shopping already up and that's before Cyber Monday, but before we get to Monday, there's something called small business Saturday. Now, there's something just about every day after Thanksgiving, and that's when people are being encouraged to shop at the small businesses tomorrow, Saturday.

KOSIK: Yes, and this is a new concept relatively new. It started two years ago with American express, and it's about these small businesses saying, hey -- they're raising their hands, hey, don't forget us. We're out here, too. And industry groups seeing more than 100 million people, they came out last year to shop at these independently owned small businesses on Black Friday last year. But, you know, these small businesses have a huge obstacle. They face the problem of getting the word out. That they're -- that they're out there, that they've got some deals, too. It's these big box retailers that got have got all the money to spend on circulars and T.V. ads. So, these small businesses are trying to say, hey, we're here, too. Don't forget us. Come out for Saturday small business -- to the small businesses -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lots of encouragement there. Thanks so much. Alison Kosik, enjoy the weekend -- holiday weekend. So, the company's largest retailer says crowds of shoppers are larger than last year, despite protests at some of its stores. Wal-mart, I'm talking about, says it processed nearly 10 million registered transactions during its first four opening hours on Thanksgiving day. That works out to about 5,000 items per second. But unions and some Wal-mart employees are targeting the chain today. Our Kyung Lah is outside of Wal-mart in Paramount, California where you can see some pretty big crowds in the parking lots there. So, Kyung, you know, who is protesting the retail chain and what are they actually hoping to accomplish?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the people you are seeing over my right shoulder, Fredricka, and we're going to go ahead and zoom in now so you can get a better look at them. Those are Wal-Mart employees, a great majority of them are. There are a few union people mixed in there, but those are primarily Wal-Mart employees from around southern California, not all from this store.

And the reason why they are targeting the most important shopping day of the year to be out here in front of these stores is to remind shoppers and management that there are some serious problems here with the workers, with pay and health care. And this is something that we're seeing not just at the store but nationally across the country. From Texas to Maryland, there are employees who are not showing up for work. Now, despite all of this, Wal-Mart is saying they are having their best Black Friday ever. Workers we spoke to say, hey, look, they are glad to hear that. Here's what one employee told us.


DAN HINDMAN, WAL-MART: We don't want customers to walk from Wal-Mart. We want the -- we want the customers at Wal-Mart, because this is how we pay our bills. Listen, with them, this is how the store stays open. So, that's awesome. But what we're trying to do is get a point across. That's all we're trying to do is get a point across, Wal- mart, help us.


LAH: So, trying to make a point. The question is has Wal-mart management heard? At this point, it does appear that management and these protests who are outside aren't going to be coming to the table to have any real open heart to heart discussions -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So, Wal-mart not necessarily acknowledging or in any way sending a message to these employees that they will consider raising pay, trying to improve the condition of the workers?

LAH: No, nothing concrete from Wal-mart. And what Wal-Mart is saying, though, is that they are already saying that they don't believe that this is having much of an impact. And having talked to some of these shoppers out here, Fredricka, I can tell you that a lot of shoppers say, oh, look, there is something happening outside and then they walk inside and look for a good deal. What Wal-mart is telling us is that they believe they have 50, only 50, employees who just didn't show up for work and walking out in front of the store instead. Now, the employees here say that's absolutely a flat out lie. They believe many more workers have not shown up for work in order to protest. So, both sides hoping that they're going to be able to keep their ground and dig in, but, you know, the ultimate goal of trying to meet somewhere in the middle doesn't appear to be any time soon.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kyung Lah in Paramount, California. Thanks so much.

All right. Die-hard shoppers are out in force today taking advantage of door-buster deals and Black Friday bargains. Elsewhere, hard to believe, but this was the scene at a Victoria Secret Pink store in Kansas. Hundreds of screaming teenage girls descending on the store. Mall security officers trying to keep them from pushing their way inside. Lines were so long at stores like Toys "R" Us where some shoppers waited overnight for the doors to open. And toys and electronics are among the big hot ticket items there. A retail trade group estimates that 147 million shoppers nationwide plan to hit the stores today and throughout this weekend. The crowds and long lines occasionally led to some pushing and shoving, of course, while most shoppers seem to enjoy the frenzy. However, it was still too much for some.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, crazy. All it is is stuff. It's just stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My granddaughter opened up the magazine and said this is what I want for Christmas. I was lucky. It was fun. I met some people outside the store and shared some stories, and it was -- it was good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's awesome. Got what we wanted and we're done. I'm going to be the greatest mom in the world.


WHITFIELD: My goodness. Well, things did get a little out of hand at a mall in Michigan. Police hauled two people away in handcuffs after a fight there broke out.

All right. Meanwhile, the Obamas are getting into the holiday mood by welcoming the annual Christmas tree at the White House there. This morning, first lady Michelle Obama was presented with this 19 foot Frazer fir from Jefferson, North Carolina. It was selected back in October. The tree will be on display in the Blue Room. The National Christmas Tree Association has presented the Christmas tree every year since 1966. Here's how Jay Leno says the Obamas spent their Thanksgiving.


JAY LENO, HOST, "TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": You know, it's interesting, they celebrated Thanksgiving a little differently at the White House this year. What they did was President Obama went out to a farm, picked out the turkey he wanted and then they sent in SEAL team six to take it out. Just kind of --


WHITFIELD: At least today is a little quieter. Here's what else we are working on. Protesters in Egypt are outraged over President Mohammed Morsi's power grab. Thousands now call him the new pharaoh. Is the new president pulling away from democracy? And ever wonder what it takes to load a plane before takeoff? How your bags get from point A to point B? We have an exclusive look at a flight pit crew. Plus, they're booming with talent. Hollywood baby boomers breaking the mold proving age is just a number. So, how the boomers are now also being called the me generation. This is the CNN NEWSROOM, and it's all happening right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right, it's after 8:00 p.m. in Cairo row right now, and it's been a very long day of angry, sometimes violent, protests filling the streets.




WHITFIELD: Right here, fired tear gas to try and break up crowds of people infuriated by a list of decrees issued by Egypt's new president. Mohammed Morsi essentially gave himself absolute power to create laws and to enforce them with no oversight at all, including by the country's courts. Fed up Egyptians flooded the streets. They say, this looks too much like Hosni Mubarak which led to last year's deadly revolution. President Morsi says he is doing it for the good of the country. CNN's Reza Sayah joining us now from Cairo. So, Reza, the people in Cairo are not buying the president's explanation, even if it means it's just temporary until parliament is ushered in?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No, they're not and they're angry. If anyone thought Egyptians were tired of protesting after two years of demonstrations, all have you to do is look at Tahrir Square in Cairo today, and it's clear that they're not tired and they're angry. Thousands of protesters filing into Tahrir Square today. Also, protests and demonstrations taking place in places like Alexandria, Port Sayid. These demonstrators are angry after a controversial set of decrees were announced by Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi.

It's important to explain these decreases. One of them bans anyone, any authority, even the judiciary, from overturning, appealing, any of Mr. Morsi's decisions since he took office in June. This is an order that is to be in place until a parliament takes over, a parliament is established. that could be months away.

So, technically, right now, Mr. Morsi is the most powerful man in Egypt, and he can technically do whatever he pleases without any oversight. Another decree focuses on the constitutional assembly.

This is the all important panel of 100 individuals, assigned to draft Egypt's new constitution. There's been a lot of conflict between these individuals, some of the liberal members, Christian members, have quit in protest; some have sued to dissolve this panel.

In one particular decree, Mr. Morsi says that this particular panel cannot be dissolved. He is describing these decrees as a way to push forward the democratic process. But his opponents, Fredricka, are saying it's an undemocratic power grab.

WHITFIELD: All right. Reza Sayah, thank you so much for that update out of Cairo.

All right. And now to that fragile cease-fire that President Morsi actually helped broker between Israel and Hamas. Palestinian leaders say Israel has violated the truce that's just less than 24 hours old.

Sara Sidner joining us live now from Jerusalem.

So, Sarah, there was a shooting today in a buffer zone near the Israeli-Gaza border. Exactly what happened?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, no one's really supposed to be in that zone, so that's where the issue started. Now according to the Hamas health ministry, these were farmers that were in the area. They say that one person was killed and 25 people injured.

However, the Israeli military, a very different story, saying there were groups of men who were protesting Israel, trying to go underneath the border, trying to get into Israel, and that the military shot in the air a warning shot. That warning shot was not heeded and then the military shot towards their legs.

So far Israel not confirming the death or the injuries, but they are investigating. This kind of incident happens off and on along the border. This is east of Khan Younis. It is not all that unusual that something might happen there and something violent.

However, it comes at a very stressful time, a time when we're just coming up on 48 hours after the cease-fire was put into place, and one of the main sticking points of the cease-fire is that there would be no aggression from either side. And now we're hearing from the Palestinian Authority that they belief that the cease-fire was broken by Israel. Israel has not responded, nor has Hamas.

But you have to look at the situation and see that, without a response from Hamas, who is in control in Gaza, and without a response yet from Israel, so far the cease-fire is holding, though it is a very fragile one, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes, so it seems like a real loose interpretation as to whether, indeed, that cease-fire is holding if one side is, you know, already shooting.

But what about ordinary citizens? How are they seeing this, and what hopes do they have about this truce?

SIDNER: You know, this is exactly what a lot of citizens were talking about when they heard about the cease-fire. It sounded good. They were happy that they didn't have to feel so stressed out and so worried about their families on this side of the border.

When it comes to the sirens, the sirens aren't ringing all the time. The rockets aren't coming over. When it comes to the other side of the border -- which I spent time on both sides, you're not hearing the sounds of airstrikes. People aren't as frightened. You're not hearing the planes overhead.

However, there is a great deal of annoyance, animosity, if you will, because people just do not believe that the cease-fire is going to hold for a very long time, and what they really want is a permanent solution to this conflict, and most people don't believe that's going to happen in the very near future, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sara Sidner, thanks so much. Appreciate that.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): Here in the states, Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss taking aim at tax reformer Grover Norquist. Why the Georgia senator might back out of his pledge not to raise taxes.

Plus, House Majority Leader John Boehner sounding more and more like Republicans won't be easily won over during tax talks. The nearing fiscal cliff, next.

And it was a normal Thanksgiving morning until this multi-car wreck. How some 100 cars collided in Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just like a couple of seconds, a chain reaction. It's crazy. Flashed right in front of my eyes.


WHITFIELD: A lot of people in Texas say they are lucky to be alive today.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): That's after this massive interstate pile-up on Thanksgiving morning. More than 100 cars, pickup trucks and 18- wheelers involved.

They were barreling down a foggy stretch of I-10, when one collision caused yet another crash, and then the chain reaction kept on going. Two people were killed and about 120 were injured. Survivors say there could easily have been more fatalities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People just start screaming and running. And as we was trying to get out, a car hit us again, and then after that car hit us, we jumped out, and then the 18-wheeler came and hit all the cars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you look at your car, what are you thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad I wasn't in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The back of his semi was in -- where my son's head was. I got my husband, my two kids, you know, I can't be any more thankful for that.


WHITFIELD: That major east-west interstate in Texas was closed for much of Thanksgiving Day in both directions. A real mess.

All right. Now to the so-called fiscal cliff. A top Republican lawmaker may break ranks with Tea Party activist Grover Norquist and his anti-tax pledge to avoid going over that cliff.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss signed the tax protection promise when he first ran for the U.S. Senate back in 2008. He had this to say to CNN affiliate WMAZ, saying, quote, "I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way" -- meaning Norquist's way -- "then we'll continue in debt," end quote.

Norquist heads Americans for Tax Reform. He explained to -- he explained the pledge, rather, to my colleague, Soledad O'Brien.

GROVER NORQUIST, TAX REFORMER: The pledge is to the American people and to the people of their state. We share the pledge with everybody at Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge isn't to me -- even as Vice President Biden says that from time to time.


WHITFIELD: But House Speaker John Boehner may have some different plans going into talks about the fiscal cliff. He wrote in an opinion piece this week that the president's health care reform must be included in deficit negotiations.

All right. Before you tell your kids a story of Christmas, listen up. The pope is out with a new book, and it debunks a lot of details about Jesus' birth. More on that later on this hour.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. Here on the "Help Desk" we're talking about paying down debt and saving for the future. With me this hour are Greg Olsen and Carmen Wong Ulrich

Greg, this question is for you. And Susan (ph) told us the more she spends on paying off her debt, the less she has to save.


SUSAN (PH): How do we balance between saving for the future and paying down some credit card debt?

KOSIK: You know, those bills come in, and you see that debt, and your eyes just pop out of your head.

GREG OLSEN, PARTNER, LENOX ADVISERS: It's an easy question, but I'm very glad she asked it because it's something that most people get wrong.

And unless you have an introductory rate or you're paying a 0 percent introductory rate and have the ability to transfer that in the future, low credit card debt rates are considered 12 percent right now. Show me where you can get an investment that's going to net on an after-tax basis, after fee, that's guaranteed, that's going to do 12 percent. It doesn't exist. So, therefore, pay off your credit card debt aggressively first. Then save.

KOSIK: Do you have anything to add?

CARMEN WONDERING-ULRICH, PRESIDENT AND CO-FOUNDER, ALTA WEALTH MANAGEMENT: And even though you would be really surprised how an additional $20 a month, an additional, you know, $50 a month can cut that debt down so much more quickly.

You can save years and also save thousands of dollars in interest in little amounts just adding to that every month, so really work hard and do that.

KOSIK: That's a really good trick. Thank you.

And if you have an issue you want our experts to tackle, upload a 30- second video with your "Help Desk" question to