TO FINANCE...

THE STRUGGLING CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IS HOPING IT MAY HAVE TURNED THE CORNER.

NEW HOME SALES HAVE RISEN FOR THE SECOND MONTH IN A ROW.

NOVEMBER'S SALES WERE UP BY 4 POINT 7 PER CENT.

BUT THE RECOVERY HAS A LONG WAY TO GO - VOLUME IS STILL MORE THAN 15 PER CENT LOWER THAN IN 2011.

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NOVEMBER'S RETAIL TRADE FIGURES WERE LESS ENCOURAGING.

ANAYLSTS ANAYLSTS WERE SURPRISED BY A DROP OF POINT ONE OF A PER CENT IN THE CRUCIAL PRE-CHRISTMAS MONTH.

DEPARTMENT STORE SALES WERE DOWN BY NEARLY HALF A PER CENT.

THAT WAS IN SPITE OF AN INTEREST RATE CUT THE MONTH BEFORE.

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US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IS TODAY EXPECTED TO NOMINATE HIS WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF JACK LEW AS THE NEW TREASURY SECRETARY.

MR LEW HAS BEEN WIDELY TIPPED FOR THE JOB AFTER SERVING AS BUDGET DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENTS OBAMA AND CLINTON.

HE'LL REPLACE TIMOTHY GEITHNER.

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TO THE MARKETS..

THE U.S. STOCKS ARE UP SLIGHTLY.

LONDON'S FOOTSIE GAINED THREE QUARTERS OF A PER CENT OVERNIGHT.

AND CHECKING COMMODITY PRICES..

WEST TEXAS CRUDE IS TRADING AT 93 U-S DOLLARS A BARREL.

TAPIS CRUDE IS TRADING AT 119 U-S DOLLARS A BARREL.

AND GOLD IS WORTH 16-HUNDRED AND 57 U-S DOLLARS AN OUNCE.

THE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR IS BUYING 105 U-S CENTS, 80 EURO CENTS AND 66 PENCE STERLING.