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Today's Primer Post


Wall Street is in the midst of a rather quirky positive streak: since December 21, the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq have fallen in 7 of 10 sessions, yet they are all up over that period - the latter two by more than 1 percent. The averages also haven't had a winning streak as long as three days since the S&P 500's three-day streak from December 10-12.


The NFIB's Small Business Index, measuring optimism by small businesses, leads off a light day for economic reports at 7:30 a.m. New York time. The government releases consumer credit figures for November at 3 p.m., with economists expecting an $11.3 billion dollar expansion following October's $14.2 billion increase.


Fourth quarter earnings season officially kicks off after today's closing bell, with the release of numbers from Dow component Alcoa. Monsanto (MON) is also on the earnings calendar for today, releasing its numbers before the opening bell.


ConAgra (CAG) shares are under pressure this morning, after the food producer announced a $240 million secondary stock offering. ConAgra plans to use the funds for its previously announced acquisition of Ralcorp Holdings.


Wells Fargo (WFC) has revealed that its portion of the newly announced mortgage foreclosure settlement will be $766 million. Wells also plans to commit another $1.2 billion to foreclosure prevention action.


Yum Brands (YUM) expects to report full-year 2012 earnings of $3.24 per share, excluding one-time items. That's below current Street estimates of $3.26, with Yum citing adverse publicity from a Chinese government review of the country's poultry supply. It's also expecting China same-store sales to be down 6 percent, compared to the restaurant operator's previous forecast of a 4 percent drop in what has been Yum's fast growing market. Yum's official earnings release will be out on February 4.


Sears Holdings (SHLD) says chief executive officer Louis D'Ambrosio will step down on February 2 because of family health matters. Chairman Edward Lampert will assume the CEO role at that time.


Vodafone (VOD) shares have jumped in Europe this morning after Verizon (VZ) chief executive Lowell McAdam told the Wall Street Journal it would be feasible to buy out Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. London-based Vodafone has been in the process of selling stakes around the world in businesses it did not control.


Sony (SNE) is considering selling its battery business, though CEO Kazuo Hirai told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show that no decision on the unit has been made as yet.


Dell (DELL) senior vice president David Johnson has left the computer maker to take a senior position with investment firm Blackstone Group (BX). Johnson joined Dell in 2009 from IBM (IBM), which fought an unsuccessful legal battle to keep Johnson from jumping to Dell.


Yahoo (YHOO) says it has fixed a vulnerability in its email service that has resulted in many users seeing an increase in spam and other undesirable content.


A judge has ruled that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman cannot block a $115 million settlement between AIG (AIG) shareholders and a group of former executives, including former CEO Hank Greenberg. The settlement was struck in 2009, but Schneiderman has contended that the payout to those shareholders is too low.


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