Morning Business Memo:
Black Friday sales are coming earlier than ever this year. At some big retailers the holiday shopping season starts now. Increasingly, stores are announcing specials to get shoppers in the buying mood as soon as possible. "I think we'll start to see some pre-black Friday pre-cyber Monday deals start to take place this week and next week," says James Brown, senior director of Merchant Services at PriceGrabber.com. "Everybody is racing to get to the consumer dollars as fast as possible." Toys R Us, Target and Wal-Mart are opening as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Brown says tablets are by far this year's hottest gift item. "They look to be the must-have product this holiday season." There are more new tablets to choose from this year. "The pricing is more competitive now where individuals can buy a tablet in the $200 price point range," as opposed to $500 and up in past years.
The man behind Windows 8 is out. Microsoft (MSFT) says Steven Sinofsky, the president of its Windows unit, is leaving the company. The announcement comes just weeks after Microsoft launched Windows 8 - which was a major overhaul of the computer operating system. Microsoft did not say why he was leaving but there have been reports of conflict between Sinofsky and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Stock futures dropped this morning. Overseas markets fell. Oil is down and gold is down after investor disappointment about Greece. European finance ministers put off approval of an urgently needed aid payment to the Greek government. The Eurozone ministers appear to agree Greece will have more time to make needed reforms. But most financial experts do not believe Greece can ever repay the massive debt it owes.
US homeowners are paying down their debt. Credit reporting firm Trans Union says fewer homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments. The third quarter number dropped to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009. The late payment rate though is still well above the historical average.
Don't be surprised if some of your co-workers call out sick today. Their "bug" could be caused by the release of "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," probably the biggest new video game of the year. Thousands of stores opened at midnight so gamers could get their hands on it right away. The last Call of Duty release made more than $400 million on its first day - a far bigger haul than box office receipts for the hottest Hollywood movies.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc