Beer, Diet Soda Sales in Mystery Decline

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Morning Money Memo…

Americans are drinking less beer and diet soda. Several well-known beer brands are far less popular than they were a few years ago. According to the industry journal Beer Marketer's Insights, beer sales declined 2.3 percent between 2007 and 2012. Some well-known brands have done far worse.

Sales of Michelob Light plunged nearly 70 percent while Bud Select's numbers declined more than 60 percent in the same five-year period. While beer sales have been slimming down, wine and spirits sales have done much better.

According to Wells Fargo research, sales of zero- and low-calorie soda fell nearly 7 percent over the past twelve months. For full-calorie sodas the decline has been just over 2 percent.

American Airlines and US Airways are set to sign merger documents today, forming the world's biggest airline. The deal also means American is emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But consumer groups warn the merger will lead to higher prices.

The agreement is the latest in a series of mergers that will leave four airlines controlling more than 80 percent of the US air-travel market and with more power than ever to limit seats and boost profits.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and several other large tech firms are calling on Congress to rein in government surveillance. They have formed a coalition to campaign for privacy rights and push back against government requests for consumer data.

"The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world's governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information," the coalition website says. "We strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed."

The Federal Reserve may start tapering as soon as next week. Last week's reports on GDP - economic output - and employment raise the stakes for the Fed. Three top officials are scheduled to speak today, including St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who has said there could be a decision to reduce bond buying at this month's meeting. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker also set to speak about money policy.

The economy, the Fed and retail sales are likely to play a big role this week in financial markets. The Dow Jones index rose nearly 200 points on Friday after a strong jobs report. On Thursday the Commerce Department will its report on November retail sales.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow