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POSTED November 29, 2012 10:34 p.m.

• Drought threatens to close Mississippi to barges: ST. LOUIS (AP) — After months of drought, companies that ship grain and other goods down the Mississippi River are being haunted by a potential nightmare: If water levels fall too low, the nation’s main inland waterway could become impassable to barges just as the harvest heads to market.

Any closure of the river would upend the transport system that has carried American grain since before steamboats and Mark Twain. So shipping companies are scrambling to find alternative ways to move tons of corn, wheat and other crops to the Gulf Coast for shipment overseas.

“You can’t just wait until it shuts down and suddenly say, ‘There’s a problem,’” said Rick Calhoun, head of marine operations for Chicago-based Cargill Inc. “We’re always looking at Plan B.”

• Wet Seal revenue gauge falls 5.1 pct in November: FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. (AP) — Wet Seal Inc. said Thursday that its revenue at stores open at least a year dropped 5.1 percent, but managed to beat Wall Street predictions.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 6.8 percent drop. The figure is a key indicator of a retailer’s health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

The Foothill Ranch, Calif., teen retailer, said the results were “modestly” ahead of its expectations and estimated that Superstorm Sandy reduced its revenue at stores open at least a year by about 1 percent.

For the four-week period ended Nov. 24, revenue at stores open at least a year fell 5.1 percent at the company’s namesake stores, while it dropped 6.9 percent at its Arden B stores.

Total sales fell 4.6 percent to $48.8 million. Sales fell 3.2 percent to $42.4 million at Wet Seal brand stores and 12.8 percent to $6.4 million at Arden B stores.

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