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Brief asides


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POSTED: Monday, December 14, 2009

HAPPY DAYS

Holiday shopping gives retailers a reason to smile

Retailers are breathing a little easier, as nationwide data confirms what many had been seeing in their own stores: Consumers are finally loosening the purse strings.

A strong start to the holiday shopping season helped push retail sales up nearly twice as much as expected in November, according to government figures released on Friday.

Nationwide, retail sales rose 1.3 percent overall from October, seasonally adjusted.

The data reinforces the expectation of modest growth in consumer spending over the next several months, though sales alone will probably not increase fast enough to lift the economy out of its downturn, economists said.

 

LOOKING UP

Short-term study gives long-term cancer hope

A new drug treatment provides a glimmer of hope to women who had faced certain death from advanced breast cancer. Scientists announced that a combination of two drugs that more precisely target tumors extended the lives of women who had stopped responding to other medicines. In a study of 300 patients, those receiving both Herceptin and Tykerb lived nearly five months longer than those given Tykerb alone. Doctors hope for an even bigger benefit in women with less advanced disease, and were elated at this improvement in the sickest patients. While five months might not seem like much to healthy people, those facing their final days likely hold a much different perspective.