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Holiday shoppers cutting back
Nine out of 10 consumers will be spending the same or less than they did in '03, according to the NPD Group. A sluggish economy, a weak job market and high gas prices were blamed for curbing shopping. Consumers ages 18-24 are expected to help drive sales, with researchers predicting they'll spend $537 each, about 47% more than last year. But 25-34-year-olds are expected to pare their purchases 21%. Consumers on average are expected to spend $655 each.
** Wal-Mart steered its Q3 outlook to the low end of a 52-54 cents a share range against views of 53 cents. It also forecast $2.36-$2.40 a share for '04, while …