Some slivers of sunshine amidst the economic clouds today. First, retail sales are up for the first time in six months, perhaps signaling that consumers aren’t as bearish on the economy as President Obama appears to be. I like the President and certainly wish him success, but his mantra of “we have nothing to fear except a shortage of fear” isn’t going to be celebrated at the Smithsonian anytime soon. All in all, retail sales climbed one percent in January – the largest increase since December, 2007. The spike may not last, especially if gasoline prices rise, but it’s good …

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The invaluable Tech Ticker pour more gasoline on the fire we started yesterday on the historical decline of the U.S. stock market in 2008. Says TT; "Any way you slice it, the 2008 is shaping up to annus horribilis for the U.S. stock market. Heading into Friday's session, in which an early rally effort quickly faded, the S&P was down 49% year-to-date and on track for its worst year ever. Down 43% year to date, the Dow is heading for its second worst year in history, the WSJ reports, trailing only the 53% decline in 1931." An astonishing number of …

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Dish Network is looking a bit chipped, if not actually cracked or even broken – and maybe Direct TV is poised to pick up all the pieces and put the second-place satellite TV provider back together again. That’s the picture I’m seeing with Dish, which saw it’s shares drop by $2.20 – or 7% total – after telecom giant AT&T is deep-sixing an agreement to help resell Dish’s programming services this week. Dish’s stock price, trading around $27 per share today, is off from a 52-week high of $42.78. The news from AT&T seems to be hiding a bigger story. …

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The End.