Today--December 1, 2006 on

Good morning--it's December 1, 2006--24 days until Christmas--and counting.

We're having a busy day so far. U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr. from Tennessee is guest host on "Squawk Box." He lost that close U.S. Senate seat race last month to Republican Bob Corker. Some members of his party would like him to replace current party chairman Howard Dean--but that seems just a wish. Ford says the Democrats will have to offer the country direction on such big issues as Iraq and the U.S. economy. He says if they don't--they'll lose in 2008.

Our quote of the day comes from the late filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn: " A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." He should have been a lawyer.

Here's a look at the markets and what's ahead on

Scheduled guests include McDonald's Vice President of Corporate Responsibility--Bob Angert. He'll talks about over fishing for his company's seafood sandwiches. We're also looking at cyber threats with NBC News investigative reporter Bob Windrem. We'll also have an exclusive with GMAC Chairman and CEO Eric Feldstein.

Here's some background for today. Stocks enter December on a positive-- aiming higher this morning after yesterday's seesaw session. Economic data and the weaker dollar could influence trading. Tokyo closed higher--Hong Kong was lower and stocks are firmer in Europe. The dollar trades at 20 month lows.

The Dow finished November 121 points shy of the record it set November 17. Up 14 percent for the year, the Dow scored a 1.2 percent gain for the month, its fifth monthly advance in a row but its worst performance since July. The NASDAQ, up 10 percent for the year, gained 2.7 percent in November, and the S&P finished November up 1.6 percent, setting up a 12 percent gain for the year so far.

ECONOMIC SPOTLIGHT Disappointing news from the Chicago purchasing managers set markets on edge yesterday and intensified the focus on this morning's ISM data. the forecast is 51 but anything under 50 would be perceived as a real negative. After an up and down session, stocks ended yesterday mixed, with the Dow and S&P a hair higher and the NASDAQ just slightly lower. Yield on the 10 year moved to a 10 month low, below the market's magic number of 4.5 percent. Construction spending and monthly auto sales are also due today.

ENERGY ON FIRE Oil is slightly weaker today, just below $63 a barrel. Stocks of energy companies were the best performers last month, up 8 percent. Not surprising since crude was up 7.5 percent in November, gasoline was up 18 percent, heating oil up 14 percent, and natural gas gained 17 percent. Just two weeks away from OPEC's next meeting now, Angola and Sudan followed Ecuador in saying yesterday that they may join OPEC -- a move that could boost the power of the oil cartel.

GM shares held up Thursday--despite Kirk Kerkorian's sale of his big stake in the company. our David Faber reported the news during late afternoon trading. Delta management continues to snub USAir stating it still does not want a merger after a meeting with USAir yesterday.