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Stocks inch higher...Retail group expects holiday sales to rise 3.6 to 4 percent...Wells Fargo CEO faces an angry Congress

Posted October 3

— Stock indexes have been inching higher in afternoon trading, tacking on a bit more to their records set a day earlier. Trading was again quiet, with only modest moves for bond yields, commodities and other markets. Stock markets were closed in Germany, China and South Korea for holidays.

The nation's largest retail trade group is forecasting holiday sales for the November and December period to rise between 3.6 percent and 4 percent to between $678.75 billion and $682 billion. The estimate from the National Retail Federation compares with 3.6 percent in the same period last year. The dollar figure excludes sales from autos, gas and restaurants but includes online spending and other non-store sales.

Some U.S. senators questioning Wells Fargo's CEO say an auto insurance scandal is an example of how the bank's culture hasn't changed. Wells Fargo acknowledged earlier this year that it signed up tens of thousands of auto loan customers up for insurance they did not need, and some of those customers who could not afford the auto insurance had their cars repossessed. Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota said, "I do not hear a level of cultural change that satisfies me today."

House Republicans are looking at giving homeowners a choice between taking the deduction for local property taxes or the one for mortgage interest. It's part of the tax overhaul plan still evolving in Congress. The possible deduction tradeoff is among several provisions being floated by Republican lawmakers to gain the support of their defecting colleagues from high-tax states. Their opposition threatens to derail tax legislation that's seen as a political imperative for Republicans and President Donald Trump.

Ireland's High Court has asked the European Court of Justice to decide whether Facebook's Dublin-based subsidiary can legally transfer users' personal data to its U.S. parent, saying there are "well-founded concerns" the practice violates European law. The case has far-reaching implications for social media companies and others who move large amounts of data via the internet.

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