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Wall Street looking for Christmas Week comeback

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Futures point to a higher open ahead of the last two weeks of trading for 2015, but the year looks to be ending with a whimper rather than a bang. Stocks are currently on track for their second worst month of the year, and only the Nasdaq is positive for 2015 among the major averages. (CNBC)

Globally traded Brent crude oil fell to its lowest level since July 2014 on Monday, breaking through the $36.20 price level hit during the depths of the financial crisis. (Reuters)

Gold tacked on gains amid dollar weakness after rising sharply in the previous session to offset losses following an interest rate hike last week. (Reuters)

Spanish stocks were lower after the country's ruling conservative party fell well short of a majority in parliamentary elections, putting the future of Spain's economic reforms in question. The People's Party now faces the daunting task of forming a government with the opposition Socialists or anti-austerity Podemos and Ciudadanos. (CNBC)

Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook dismissed the notion his company is dodging taxes as "political crap" in a "60 Minutes" interview. Cook said the U.S. tax code was written for the industrial rather than the digital age. (CNBC)

U.S. health regulators are investigating complaints about research and lab practices at embattled blood-testing start-up Theranos brought by two former employees, the Wall Street Journal reported. (CNBC)

Former Turing Pharmaceuticals executive Martin Shkreli told the Wall Street Journal U.S. authorities targeted him due to Turing's notorious drug price hike. Shkreli was arrested Thursday on charges of securities fraud relating to his tenure as a hedge fund manager. (WSJ)

Shari Redstone last year rejected a $1 billion offer from her father, 92-year-old Sumner Redstone, for her 20 percent stake in National Amusements, the holding company through which the family controls Viacom and CBS, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move solidified her position in the media empire. (WSJ)

Lyft, the chief U.S. rival of ride-hailing app developer Uber, plans to raise as much as $1 billion in a new round of funding, Bloomberg reported, citing a Delaware state filing. (Reuters)

FIFA's ethics committee has banned for eight years suspended president Sepp Blatter and European soccer head Michel Platini for their role in a corruption scandal in the sport's global governing body. (Reuters)

A woman repeatedly drove her car into pedestrian traffic on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night, killing one person and injuring dozens of others. Authorities say they have not identified a motive. (AP)

Democratic presidential candidates were united in their attacks on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in their third debate Saturday night, but Bernie Sanders aimed barbs at Hillary Clinton over her support from Wall Street, her stance on Syria, and her foreign policy. (FT)

Sanders apologized during the debate after his staff downloaded Clinton campaign data made available by a computer glitch. Sanders, however, maintained that the Democratic National Convention's move to temporarily block him from accessing voter data was a "total overreach." (USAToday)

BY THE NUMBERS

It's a shortened trading week on Wall Street, with a half day of trading on Thursday and the markets completely closed Friday for Christmas Day. There are no economic reports due today, nor any corporate earnings this morning. Uniform maker Cintas (CTAS) and furniture producer Steelcase (SCS) will be out with quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.

STOCKS TO WATCH

Apple (AAPL) and Sweden's Ericsson (ERIC) have settled patent litigation by signing a licensing agreement. The two had sued each other over mobile technology patents.

Syngenta (SYNN) now has a $44 billion takeover over from ChemChina, according to Bloomberg. That bid is $2 billion higher than a prior offer for the agricultural chemicals firm, but still below the $47 billion bid from Monsanto (MON) that Syngenta rejected earlier this year.

General Electric (GE) said it expected to announce a decision in January on whether it would move its headquarters out of Fairfield, CT. It's been considering such a move due to recently-passed tax increases by state lawmakers.

BHP Billiton's (BHP) Brazilian assets have been frozen by a judge, along with those of its partner, state-owned mining company Vale (VALE). That follows a determination by a judge that their joint venture could not pay for damage caused by a dam burst last month.

Comcast (CMCSA) is considering a bid for British commercial broadcaster ITV, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail. The paper said the NBCUniversal parent could bid as much as $16 billion and that talks between the two parties are believed to have taken place.

Baxalta (BXLT) will get a higher takeover bid from Britain's Shire (SHPG), according to the Sunday Times. The paper said Shire would add 8 billion pounds ($11.9 billion) in cash to the bid, sweetening an all-stock offer in August that at the time was worth more than $30 billion.

WATERCOOLER

Disney's (DIS) "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens" broke the record for best North American box office debut with a $238 million haul. The new "Star Wars" film took in $517 million worldwide. (Reuters)

The Miss Universe crown had to be plucked from the head of Miss Colombia after host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced she was the winner of the annual pageant. The winner was Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurztbach. (NBC News)