Today's Primer

Investors turn cautious ahead of jobs report, Fed

Wall Street's year-long rally has been interrupted for the moment, as investors await key economic data as well as the mid-December Fed policy meeting. The Dow is coming off its first three-day losing streak since late September, and the Dow and S&P 500 could be on their way to their first weekly losses in nine weeks.

It's a busy day for economic numbers, beginning with the ADP private sector employment report for November at 8:15 a.m. ET. Economists expect the report to show 173,000 new private sector jobs for November, compared to the 130,000 registered in October.

At 8:30 a.m. ET, the government will be out with its October trade deficit report, with forecasts anticipating a $40 billion gap following a $41.8 billion shortfall in September. At the same time, the first revision of third quarter productivity numbers will be released.

At 10 a.m. ET, new home sales for both September and October are out, with that September report having been delayed by the government shutdown. Consensus forecasts call for an annual sales rate of 421,000 for September and 427,000 for October.

At the same time, the Institute for Supply Management is out with its non-manufacturing index for November. That measure of the U.S. services economy is expected to fall to 55.0 from October's 55.4.

And at 2 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve will be out with its Beige Book, the region-by-region assessment of the nation's economy.

Spirits producer Brown-Forman (BFB) and retailer Express (EXPR) are among the small number of companies out with quarterly earnings this morning, while retailers Aeropostale (ARO), Wet Seal (WTSL), New York & Company (NWY) and Mattress Firm (MFRM) have after-the-bell reports.

J.C. Penney (JCP) is among our stocks to watch this morning, with the retailer reporting a 10.1 percent increase in November same-store sales. That marks the second straight monthly gain in comparable store sales for Penney.

Sears (SHLD) chairman and CEO Edward Lampert has reduced his stake in the retailer to 48.4 percent from 55.4 percent, according to an SEC filing. Lampert's hedge fund, ESL partners, distributed 7.4 million Sears shares to investors who decided to exit the fund.

Men's Wearhouse (MW) may sell its off price chain K&G to Sycamore Partners, with Reuters reporting the private equity firm is in advanced talks with the retailer about such a transaction. Men's Wearhouse is in the midst of a takeover battle with Jos. A. Bank (JOSB), having bid $1.5 billion last week to acquire its rival.

BlackBerry (BBRY) interim CEO John Chen is in that job "for the long haul", according to the smart phone maker's largest shareholder, Prem Watsa. Watsa is head of Fairfax Financial, which has helped lead the effort to fund a turnaround for the beleaguered company. Watsa made his comments in an interview with Reuters.

Google's (GOOG) YouTube will not debut a planned subscription music service until sometime in 2014, according to All Things D.

TE Connectivity (TEL) raised its quarterly dividend by 16 percent, to 29 cents per share from 25. The company is a maker of electrical connection devices for a variety of industries.

Apple (AAPL) is in our watch list after closing at its highest level of 2013 in Tuesday's trading.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that J.C. Penney reported a second monthly gain in November in same-store sales.