Jobs, Economy and Stocks Gain as Year Closes

Morning Money Memo…

Major markets in the U.S. and Europe are closed today for Christmas. The Dow finished up just 6 points yesterday, enough to set yet another new record for the index at 18,030. Markets will end the week with good news in hand, with new Labor Department data showing jobless claims falling to a seven-week low. Factoring estimates of December's job data, total employment growth this year could approach nearly 3 million new jobs, outpacing the estimated 2.3 million jobs added in each of 2012 and 2013.

Takata is facing a shakeup in its executive ranks , following a tumultuous year marked by the massive recalls linked to the company's airbags. Yesterday the company's president and COO announced he was stepping down from his post, while other key executives would be taking substantial pay cuts. Shegehisa Takada, the current CEO and grandson of the company's founder, will be absorbing the president's role.

Wal-Mart is preparing to raise wages. The world's largest retailer will adjust base salaries at 1,434 stores, or a third of its U.S. locations, according to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters. Stores in 21 states make will make adjustments to coincide with minimum wage increases.

Uber can add another check to the column of challenges the up-and-coming company faces. The ride-booking service, which has faced a litany of lawsuits, in addition to having its Nevada operation suspended and its CEO indicted by the South Korean government in the last 30 days, is now facing a federal lawsuit by 45 Philadelphia taxi companies, accusing Uber of racketeering. Uber said on Wednesday it will "vigorously defend the rights of riders to enjoy competition and choice, and for drivers to build their own small businesses."