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    This holiday season is setting up to be a real nail biter. Most holiday forecasts call for flat or just slightly higher sales than last year. But several factors may tip the scale. On the plus-side: there is a more upbeat mood among affluent consumers as well as a strong appetite for gadgets and electronics. On the downside: there is an uncertain economy, with unemployment stubbornly high, and a consumer who looks at spending quite differently than in the past. What will shift the balance?

  • Macys at Jersey City decorated for holidays

    Times are tough, and retailers are getting creative, wrapping their marketing campaigns in some unlikely packaging this year, from new “grab-and-go” gift shops at Macy’s to new flexible payment options at Sears.

  • Customers wait in line to pay for their items on Black Friday at KB Toys in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

    Black Friday weekend used to be the bellwether of the holiday shopping season. Merchants held their breath when Thanksgiving weekend sales results trickled in, holding up the period as a major indicator of how their stores would perform. But the weekend has lost much of its crystal-ball appeal.

  • Women with Sale bags

    Black Friday weekend, the Super Bowl of the holiday shopping season, is upon us. But in the frenzy of the weekend, it's easy to fall into some common traps. Here’s a primer on which pitfalls to avoid and tips on how to snag the best deals.

  • If so, Cramer shows you how to catch the next one.

  • Call of Duty Black Ops

    Activision’s latest “Call of Duty” game continues to set records for the company. The video game publisher announced Thursday that in its first five days on store shelves, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” has generated sales of $650 million.

  • U.S. stock index futures rallied ahead of the open Thursday as General Motors shares looked set to jump on their return to the New York stock market, and jobless claims came in as expected.

  • The New GM

    Stocks ended mixed after trading in a tight range for most of the session Wednesday as continued uncertainties with the global economy weighed on investors, ahead of General Motors highly anticipated initial public offering. Home Depot fell, while McDonald's rose.

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    What follows is a roundup of corporate earnings reports for Wednesday, Nov. 17.

  • The New GM

    Stocks turned negative after trading within a tight range for most of the session Wednesday as continued uncertainties with the global economy weighed on investors. Home Depot fell, while Merck rose.

  • Forget Europe's debt crisis, the Street is much more concerned about something else.

  • Stocks were slightly higher but trading in a narrow band after a batch of economic data confirmed slow growth in the U.S. economy and as traders awaited more clarity concerning a potential bailout of Ireland's banks. Merck rose, while Home Depot fell.

  • Despite continuing lack of clarity over in Europe related to Irish debt situation and weakness extending in China’s stock market (Shanghai Composite down another 2 percent today after falling 4 percent yesterday), US futures were slightly higher heading into the open today.

  • U.S. stock index futures remained higher ahead of the open Wednesday after news that inflation remains tame, but housing starts were weak, as investors looked ahead to a massive stock offering from General Motors.

  • See what's happening, who's talking and what will be making headlines on Wednesday's Squawk on the Street.

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    General Motors drives its massive IPO to market Wednesday, against a backdrop of worry about a China-led slowdown and the possible bailout of Ireland.

  • Stocks fell in the last few minutes of trading Monday to close mixed despite being higher most of the day after an upbeat retail sales report, and news that firms were beginning to spend cash on acquisitions. Caterpillar rose, Disney fell.

  • Stocks fell on Monday as investors recouped from last week's selloff to focus on an upbeat retail sales report, and news that firms were beginning to spend cash on acquisitions. Caterpillar rose, Disney fell.

  • Stocks rose Monday following a jump in October retail sales and a handful of M&A news. Robert Doll, chief equity strategist at BlackRock, shared his outlook.

  • Wall Street sign

    It's back to basics for stocks in the coming week, as traders watch incoming economic data for signs that a pattern of better news continues.