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Today's Primer Post

After weeks of fiscal cliff obsession and a day-after rally, Wall Street has returned, at least for now, to focusing on more traditional concerns. A few words about the possible end of QE in yesterday's Fed minutes pushed stocks to session lows, and this morning's December employment report is likely to be the key influence on markets during the week's final session.


The jobs report is set for release at 830am ET, with consensus forecasts calling for 150,000 new non-farm jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.8%. However, several firms have raised their estimates in light of yesterday's better than expected ADP report on private sector employment.


We'll also get the year's first Institute For Supply Management non-manufacturing index, due at 10am ET. Consensus forecasts call for the index to come in at 54.0 for December, down slightly from November's 54.7. At the same time, the government will be out with November factory orders, seen rising 0.1% following a 0.8% increase in October.


The Energy Department will have two holiday-postponed inventory reports, with natural gas supplies out at 10:30am ET and oil and gasoline inventories at 11am ET.


The earnings calendar is light this morning, with retailer Finish Line (FINL) and phosphates producer Mosaic (MOS) among the few companies releasing quarterly numbers.


Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) is among our stocks to watch, as Liberty Media (LMCA) receives FCC permission to take full control of the satellite radio operator.


Brunswick (BC) is planning to find a buyer for its Hatteras and CABO brands, and will take a $70 million to $80 million dollar fourth quarter charge as a result. Those brands are makers of yachts and sportfishing convertibles.


Coinstar (CSTR) chief financial officer J. Scott Di Valerio will become chief executive officer on April 1, succeeding the retiring Paul Davis.


Ford (F) is paying off $592 million in debt, consisting of 7.5% notes due in June of 2043.


Intel (INTC), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Texas Instruments (TXN) and other semiconductor makers could get some attention today, as the Semiconductor Industry Association reports November sales were up 2% from a year earlier, 2012's first year-over-year gain for the semiconductor industry.


Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) may come under investigation from Congress, with some members calling for a probe of the oil company's Arctic offshore drilling operations. That follows the incident in which a Shell oil drilling rig ran aground.


Wal-Mart (WMT) is under fire from rivals over an ad campaign that claims better prices than competitors – rivals that it specifically names in those ads. The Wall Street Journal says those competitors have complained to attorneys general in more than half a dozen states about those ads.