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Today's Primer Post

Wall Street's bulls are undoubtedly happy with the way stocks have started the new year. Last week's gains for the major averages surpassed those in any week of 2012, and the S&P 500 is coming off its highest close since December 31, 2007. Next up on the Street's radar: fourth quarter earnings season, and political battles over the debt ceiling and budget matters.


The week gets off to a slow start on the economic calendar, with no releases scheduled for today. The earnings calendar is also virtually blank today, although earnings season officially gets underway tomorrow afternoon with the releases of fourth quarter numbers from Dow component Alcoa (AA).


Humana (HUM) is among our stocks to watch this morning, as the health insurer says it expects 2013 sales for Medicare Advantage plans to be slightly higher than previously expected.


U.S. Airways (LCC) pilots are backing a labor proposal made by pilots of American Airlines. That proposal details how the two unions would be integrated if a proposed merger between the two carriers comes to fruition. That approval is seen as a key piece in making that merger a reality.


Time Warner's (TWX) HBO unit has extended a deal with Comcast's (CMCSA) Universal Pictures unit, allow HBO to keep exclusive rights to Universal movies. That deal keeps those pictures away from Netflix (NFLX). Terms of the extension were not disclosed.


Citigroup (C) is due to submit its capital plan to the Federal Reserve today. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Citi will ask for approval to buy back shares, although not to raise its dividend. Reuters reports that new Citi CEO Michael Corbat has been meeting with regulators in an attempt to improve the bank's relationships with them.


Flowers Foods (FLO) and Mexico's Grupo Bimbo are reportedly in discussions to buy pieces of the Hostess bread business. The bankrupt company is in the process of liquidating, and Reuters reports the bread brands – Wonder Bread, Nature's Pride, Home Pride, Merita, and Butternut – could bring in more than $350 million dollars.


LionsGate (LGF) scored a victory at the movie box office over the weekend, with its "Texas Chainsaw 3D" taking the number one spot at the movie box office with North American ticket sales of $23 million.



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