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Business Watch: Green Monday Deals, GMs Among Houston’s Best Paid [Listen]

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As of Sunday, Texans Will Now Begin To Pay Tax on Amazon Purchases. (Credit: Getty Images)

Green Monday deals online include free shipping from many retailers. (Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. stock index futures are drifting lower on a data-free Monday, with political turmoil in Italy putting Europe’s debt crisis back on the radar screen; investors also continue to monitor negotiations in Washington aimed at averting the so-called fiscal cliff.

S&P 500 futures dropped two-tenths percent to 1,413. Futures on the Dow declined 21 points to 13,122. Nasdaq futures 4.75 points to 2,631.

Asian Markets Bolstered by U.S. Jobs Numbers

Rising factory output in China, and better-than-expected U.S. hiring helped lift Asian stock markets modestly today, but European shares slumped after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s announcement that he intends to resign by the end of the year.

Benchmark crude oil rose above $86 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.

Green Monday Offers Include Free Shipping

If you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you may get a reprieve today, or a second-chance.

Today has been declared “Green Monday,” that special day in the holiday shopping feeding frenzy on which most stores are offering free shipping, but says beware offers that apply to big screen TV’s only, or that require minimum purchases.

GMs Second-Highest Paid Employees in Texas

If you’re a General Manager or an Operations Manager in Houston, you’re being paid the second-highest rate in the state.

The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown region follows only Odessa in manager pay, at $120,830, based on the Houston Business Journals’ ‘On Numbers’ survey. However, Houston is ranked 39th nationally.

Gas Prices Trending Downward in Houston, Nationally

It would appear Santa’s come early to Houston area gasoline pumps, with another three cent a gallon drop to $3.09 on average.

Oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says it looks like gas prices will continue the downward trend.

“We can see refiners cutting prices more, just in the past three days, in the un-branded channel of trade. If that spreads the rest of the retail market, we’re going to see another dime-decline, that is, unless, crude oil prices jump up,” Lundberg said.

Lundberg notes fuel prices have fallen 46 cents over the past nine weeks.

FedEx: Busiest Day of the Year Today

You can expect to see a lot Fed Ex trucks on the road today, expected to be the Memphis-based company’s busiest day on record.

ABC News’ Deirdre Bryant has more:

FedEx expects to move 19 million packages through it’s network. That’s a ten percent jump from last year and highlights the continuing growth of online sales. The volume has nearly doubled since 2005.

The company expects to handle 280 million shipments between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and should get another boost from this Green Monday.

It’s considered the best sales day in December for online retailers and many are offering special deals. Walmart says it will offer deep discounts on a number of items including the Xbox 360.

Strauss-Kahn Settlement Nears in Housekeeper Suit

A former international banker hopes to close the book on an unsavory chapter in his life today, reports ABC News’ Aaron Katersky:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, once among the world’s banking elite as former chief of the International Monetary Fund, has been trying to settle civil claims brought by a hotel housekeeper who accused him of attempted sexual assault.

The criminal case fell apart after prosecutors said they found inconsistencies in Nafissatou Diallo’s story but she sued him in civil court.

Strauss-Kahn counter-sued, accusing Diallo of ruining his reputation with an accusation that cost him his job and his chances of becoming the president of France. A deal is said to be in the millions.

Bloomberg May Acquire Financial Times

Michael Bloomberg is reportedly looking at a possible acquisition of the Financial Times Group, according to the New York Times.

A purchase might also include a half interest in The Economist. The CEO’s of both publications will be leaving soon, and media bankers expect them to be shopped around early next year.

Coming Up This Week 

The Federal Reserve holds a two-day interest rate meeting starting tomorrow. Capping that, Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a news conference Wednesday.

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