Tepid Holiday Shopping Season Predicted

Richard Davies
ABC News

Morning Business Memo:

Americans are expected to spend more than last year but don't look for a shop 'til you drop holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation's forecast calls for a modest rise of just over 4 percent in store sales during the busiest weeks for the industry. "In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we'll see solid holiday sales growth this year," says NRF CEO Matthew Shay. The challenges include "confusion surround the fiscal cliff" and worries about the economy. The industry forecasts strong growth of 12 percent in online shopping, but other analysts expect a bigger gain as consumers continue to do more online bargain hunting. Retailers are expected to hire about 600,000 seasonal workers - about the same number as last year.

Watch out for the fiscal cliff. A new study forecasts that unless Congress acts, soaring taxes at the beginning of next year could blow a hole in your wallet. A typical middle-income family would see its taxes go up by $2,000 says the report from the Tax Policy Center. Households in the top 1 percent income range would see an average tax increase of more than $120,000, while a family making between $110,000 and $140,000 could see a tax hike in the $6,000 range. Bush-era tax cuts on incomes and investments are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The temporary 2 percentage point payroll tax cut is also set to end.

Samsung hits back. The South Korean firm and Apple's biggest smart phone competitor has filed a motion with a US court, claiming the iPhone5 infringes on 8 of its patents. The two companies are locked in a global legal battle over intellectual property.

New York's top prosecutor is going after banking giant JP Morgan Chase and this could be the start of a more aggressive push against financial wrongdoing by federal and state regulators. A civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleges massive fraud by Bear Stearns as it sold mortgage backed securities. The lawsuit seeks damages related to huge losses suffered by investors. JP Morgan Chase purchased the collapsing Bear Stearns during the 2008 financial crisis after the alleged crimes took place. JP Morgan says it intends to fight the allegations.

Honda is recalling 573,000 Accords to fix a defective power steering hose that can leak fluid and catch fire. The recall affects Accords from the 2003 through 2007 model years that are equipped with V-6 engines. Honda says one fire was reported but no injuries.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc