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Last Call: Jumping Off the Cliff

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"At least 50 times. I've jumped off a building, jumped off a cliff in a car. I've been in bedrooms when women came in with knives and guns."

-Dennis Rodman

Start the car Dennis, we're another day closer to the cliff and no closer to a deal.

Market Musings via CNBC Earnings Czar Juan Aruego

Dow -24.34 (-0.19%) at 13114.59, S&P -6.83 (-0.48%) at 1419.83, Nasdaq -22.44 (-0.74%) at 2990.16

Mild losses on very light trading masked some substantial losses for retailers and another rise in volatility. Nine of the ten biggest S&P 500 losers were retail or clothing names including Coach, Amazon.com, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany. All of them sank more than 2 %. Also, the Vix volatility index continued its not-so-gentle climb w/ a 4.8% rise to a five-month high. It is now up 25% in just five sessions.

The Word on The Street Tonight

Geithner Warns: US Hits Debt Ceiling Monday/CNBC.com: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday notified Congress that the U.S. is going to hit the debt ceiling on New Year's Eve. "I am writing to inform you that the statutory debt limit will be reached on December 31, 2012," he wrote in a letter to Congress, "and to notify you that the Treasury Department will shortly begin taking certain extraordinary measures authorized by law to temporarily postpone the date that the United States would otherwise default on its legal obligations." Such measures, he said, can create some $200 billion in headroom under the debt limit, which would buy a couple months' time under normal circumstances. However, because of the impending "fiscal cliff," the effect of such measures can't be certain, he wrote."

Toyota to Settle Acceleration Cases for Up to $1.4 Billion/Reuters: "Toyota Motor has agreed to pay as much as $1.4 billion to settle U.S. litigation claims that its vehicles suddenly and unintentionally accelerated, according to court filings made public Wednesday. Toyota said it will take a one-time pre-tax charge of $1.1 billion to cover the estimated costs of the settlement.

As a Percentage, Attorneys' Fees in Toyota Case Could Break Records/WSJ: "The plaintiffs' firms that sued Toyota Motor Corp. in a class action lawsuit stemming from recalls in 2009-10 intend to ask for as much as $200 million in attorneys' fees, plus as much as $27 million in expenses. … The $200 million would represent about 18% of the proposed settlement total. According to the National Association of Legal Fee Analysis, that percentage would top all others in class-action settlements of more than $1 billion, and it would tie for third among fee percentages in class-action settlements of at least $300 million. (The list is current as of June 2011, so the BP and BofA/Merrill Lynch settlements aren't included.)

Jury Finds Marvell Must Pay $1.17 Billion in Patent Case/WSJ: "A jury in Pittsburgh on Wednesday found that chip maker Marvell Technology Group Ltd. should pay nearly $1.17 billion for infringing patents held by Carnegie Mellon University.If the decision stands, the award would rank among the largest to date in a patent case. Shares in Marvell fell 10% amid the verdict, dropping 85 cents to $7.40 at 4 p.m. Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market." http://cnb.cx/Unbxad

For Four Retailers, Do or Die: The New Year Has New Urgency for Best Buy, RadioShack, J.C. Penney and Sears/WSJ: "While 2013 will be a tough year for retailers due to the tepid economic recovery, a few in particular face a critical 12 months. Their experiences highlight the challenges facing store chains, from increasingly cautious consumers to fierce online competition. These unlucky retailers are going into the New Year with extra woes: slipping sales, questionable strategies and tight finances—which is why they are the ones to watch, and not in a good way."

Former US President George H.W. Bush in Intensive Care: Spokesman/AP: "A spokesman says former President George H.W. Bush is in the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital. Bush's spokesman, Jim McGrath, said late Wednesday that the former president was admitted to the ICU on Sunday at Methodist Hospital, "following a series of setbacks including a persistent fever." McGrath says Bush is alert and conversing with medical staff, and that doctors are cautiously optimistic about his treatment. No other details about his medical condition were provided, but McGrath says Bush is surrounded by family."

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