Wall Street has fallen off "the fiscal cliff", at least temporarily, as talks between the White House and Republican leaders stall. The Dow and the S&P 500 come off their biggest one-day drops in over a month, with the House set to vote today on Speaker John Boehner's so-called "plan B" bill, which the President has threatened to veto.
An extremely busy day for economic reports should get the minds of investors off the fiscal cliff issue, at least temporarily. The Labor Department is out with its weekly report on initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. New York time, with economists expecting a rise to 362,000 for the week ending December 15 compared to 343,000 the prior week. At the same time, the government will provide the final estimate of third quarter gross domestic product (GDP), now expected to show an annual growth rate of 2.9 percent compared to the prior 2.7 percent estimate.
At 10 a.m. New York time, the National Association of Realtors will issue its existing home sales report for November, with consensus forecasts calling for a 2.3 percent rise to an annual rate of 4.9 million units. Also at 10 a.m., the December Philadelphia Fed index is expected to come in at -2.5, a less negative reading than November's -10.7. We'll also get the index of leading economic indicators from the Conference Board, seen falling 0.2 percent for November after a 0.2 percent increase in October.
At 10:30 a.m., the Energy Department will be out with its weekly look at natural gas inventories.
Food producer ConAgra (CAG) is among the companies out with quarterly earnings this morning, along with Carnival Corp. (CCL), Discover Financial (DFS), Darden Restaurants (DRI), CarMax (KMX), and KB Home (KBH). Nike (NKE) is out with quarterly numbers after today's closing bell, along with Micron Technology (MU), Research In Motion (RIMM), Red Hat (RHT), and Cintas (CTAS).
NYSE Euronext (NYX) leads our list of stocks to watch, with CNBC's David Faber reporting that a deal could be announced as soon as today that would combine the New York Stock Exchange parent with IntercontinentalExchange (ICE). The proposed deal values NYSE Euronext at roughly $33 per share.
Best Buy (BBY) executive vice president Stephen Gillett is leaving the electronics retailer to take an executive position at Symantec (SYMC). Gillett's job duties have been assigned to various Best Buy senior executives.
Apple's (AAPL) "pinch-to-zoom" patent has been found invalid in a preliminary ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Samsung says that ruling will support its bid for a new trial against Apple, as it seeks to overturn a $1.05 billion damage award for patent infringement.
Jabil Circuit (JBL) reported fiscal first quarter profit of $0.61 per share, five cents above estimates. Revenues for the electronics manufacturer were also above consensus, but its earnings guidance for the current quarter is below analyst projections because of what Jabil calls "muted" end market demand.
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) reported fiscal third quarter profit of $1.03, one cent above estimates. Revenues were shy of consensus, as is the retailer's current quarter guidance. The company says Hurricane Sandy shaved nearly one percent off its same store sales growth during the quarter.
Accenture (ACN) reported quarterly profit of $1.06 per share, two cents above estimates. But revenue fell short, and its current quarter revenue projection is largely below Street consensus, as clients turn cautious about spending on consulting projects. The firm did raise its full year guidance, and says operating profit margins will rise as well.
Allscripts Healthcare (MDRX) chief executive officer Glen Tullman has resigned. Board member Paul Black has been named CEO, effective immediately. The health care records company also says it's decided against any sale following an evaluation of strategic alternatives.
Arris Group (ARRS) is buying Motorola's set top box business from Google (GOOG) for $2.35 billion in cash and stock. Arris is a maker of cable equipment.
Illumina (ILMN) may have reached a deal to sell itself to Roche for $66 per share, according to the Swiss newspaper L'Agefi. In September, Roche's $51 per share hostile bid had been called "woefully inadequate" by Illumina, which specializes in genetic analysis tools.