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Money Daily Brief: Better Christmas sales ahead?

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Paul Sakuma/AP

(Read caption) Toys R Us shoppers, like this one in Redwood City, Calif., are now being offered a law-away plan for big holiday purchases.

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•Hope for the holidays: Toys 'R Us is introducing a lay-away plan, which allows consumers to buy big-ticket items over time without credit cards. Economists say retail sales will be up this holiday season, citing strong consumer demand and optimistic forecasts from companies like Intel Corp. and TJX Cos., owner of T.J. Maxx and other discount retailers. Toymaker Hasbro saw profits rise but sales fall in the third quarter. Separately, spending on luxury goods and services surged 29 percent as high-income consumers unleashed pent-up demand.

•Rajaratnam fallout: Sri Lanka’s stock market closed down 1.6 percent, its biggest decline in four months, on news that Sri Lankan-born billionaire Raj Rajaratnam was charged with 13 counts of fraud and conspiracy for insider trading at his hedge fund. Insiders say this is just the beginning of a wider crackdown on insider-trading networks, including hedge-fund managers, lawyers, and other Wall Street players, the result of two years of investigation.

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