1) Earnings. It's still early, but a number of companies have had positive comments so far, including Costco Wholesale, Nike, Walgreen, and Monsanto. Alcoa was in line with expectations, but bullish on China.
The big issue: Are CEOs any more optimistic now that some parts of the "fiscal cliff" have been resolved? They are sitting on tons of cash — are they going to deploy any of that capital?
2) Still, a couple of holiday disappointments have retailers under pressure this morning:
a) Aeropostale said same-store sales for the nine-week period ending Dec. 29 were down 8 percent; earnings were revised downward to $0.20 to $0.24, from $0.36 to $041.
b) Tiffany said earnings would come in at the low end of guidance after reporting holiday same store sales declined 2 percent in the U.S. Europe was down 1 percent, while Asia-Pacific was up 10 percent.
Tiffany rallied earlier in the week when Signet announced holiday sales better than expected, but as several people have noted, this could also indicate that Tiffany was losing market share for people who spend $500 or less (Signet's typical buyer).
Urban Outfitter was better: Holiday sales were up 15 percent.