Sears, Kmart, Family Dollar Sales Plunge

Morning Money Memo:

Sears and K-Mart stores are facing major questions about their future plans after their parent company reported dismal sales for the holiday shopping season. Sears Holdings says it expects a loss of as much as $914 million for 2013. The struggling retailer also says its sales from stores open at least a year fell 7.4 percent for the quarter in the United States. Sears shares plunged in after-hours trading, falling nearly 14 percent.

Despite signs of improvement for the U.S. economy, Sears and other low-end retailers had a miserable Christmas. Walmart shares are down nearly 3 percent in the past month. Family Dollar Stores Inc. cut its full-year profit forecast and announced a change in strategy. Family Dollar says it will act to cut prices and win back shoppers. The retailer says many consumers are struggling to make ends meet. "More than half of Family Dollar's customers receive some sort of government assistance," the Wall Street Journal reported today. The company says the debate in Congress over federal spending has reduced confidence among its customers.

Last year was the best year for profits at America's largest banks since before the financial crisis, according to analysts. But the industry is still facing fallout from the 6-year-old mortgage meltdown. Wall Street could pay nearly $50 billion to buy peace from federal authorities who are still investigating the banks' role in the housing crisis, according to a New York Times estimate.

Global PC sales are plunging as consumers spend their tech dollars on tablets and smartphones. PC shipments fell 10 percent last year to about 316 million units, according to Gartner Research. The sales decline is likely to continue in 2014. While Chinese-owned Lenovo gained market share, the shrinking PC market put pressure on HP and Dell, which face falling sales for computers and printers.

The price of oil hit an eight-month low on global futures markets. West Texas crude rose 80 cents a barrel after falling to $91.66 late Thursday. While cheaper oil usually leads to cheaper gasoline, pump prices have gone up in recent weeks and are now higher than they were last year.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow