Today's Primer

Stocks set to register first losing week in more than 2 months

Barring a major rally, the Dow and the S&P 500 will end today's session with their first weekly losses in nine weeks. The Dow is also currently on track for its biggest weekly loss in about four months, since the week ending August 15.

Today does have an event on the calendar that has sparked major rallies, and sell-offs, in the past: the monthly government employment report. The Labor Department will release November jobs data at 8:30 a.m. ET, with consensus forecasts calling for 180,000 new non-farm jobs compared to 204,000 in October, and the unemployment rate dropping to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent.

At the same time, the Commerce Department will release personal income and spending data for November, numbers that had been delayed by the government shutdown. Economists are looking for personal income to rise 0.3 percent for November after October's 0.5 percent jump, while consumer spending is seen up 0.2 percent for November, matching the October increase.

At 9:55 a.m. ET, the University of Michigan releases its preliminary December consumer sentiment index, expected to rise to 76.5 from November's final 75.1.

A very small earnings calendar features the latest numbers from retailer American Eagle (AEO) this morning, with no reports of note this afternoon.

Gap (GPS) is among our stocks to watch this morning, after the clothing retailer reported a 2 percent increase in same-store sales for November. Analysts had expected a 0.8 percent rise, but sales growth at Gap and Old Navy was able to make up for a drop at Banana Republic.

J.C. Penney (JCP) received a letter of inquiry from the SEC in October, according to a regulatory filing. The letter asks for info on the retailer's liquidity, cash holdings, debt, and equity financing.

Time Warner Cable (TWC) remains on today's watch list, after rising yesterday on reports it would likely accept a $150 - $160 takeover bid. This morning, an FCC official tells the Wall Street Journal that any effort by NBCUniversal parent Comcast (CMCSA) to buy Time Warner Cable would face significant approval hurdles in Washington.

Big Lots (BIG) lost 17 cents per share for the third quarter, wider than the 8 cent loss analysts were forecasting. The discount retailer also forecast current quarter earnings and revenue well below Street expectations, and Big Lots also disclosed plans to exit the Canadian market.

Ulta Salon (ULTA) was short of estimates by two cents, reporting third quarter profit of 72 cents per share, excluding certain items. Revenue fell below expectations, as does the beauty products retailer's current quarter forecast.

Five Below (FIVE) earned five cents per share for the third quarter, a penny above estimates, but the discount retailer's current quarter guidance misses forecasts.

Finisair (FNSR) reported fiscal second quarter profit of 43 cents per share, four cents above estimates, with revenue and current quarter forecasts all topping analyst projections. The telecommunications equipment maker also saw higher profit margins during the quarter.

Zumiez (ZUMZ) matched estimates for the third quarter with profit of 46 cents per share, excluding certain items. The retailer of teen apparel, however, issued a current quarter forecast short of analyst estimates.

Cooper Companies (COO) earned $1.48 per share, excluding certain items, for its fourth quarter, well short of the $1.80 consensus estimate. Revenue and the current quarter forecast for the vision products provider are also below Street consensus.