CNBC's Domm: Stock Breather and Apple Options

U.S. stocks look set to open lower, taking a breather from Wednesday's record setting gains that sent the Dow above 12,500 for the first time. As we've mentioned--key data to set direction today will be the existing home sales report, jobless claims, consumer confidence and oil inventories.

Apple shares are lower in premarket trading. Reporting by the Financial Times raises more questions about options irregularities at the company and the possibility that Steve Jobs could be enmeshed in the SEC investigation. Apple is expected to make a regulatory filing with its comments on the investigation shortly.

The market's dual worries of the U.S. housing slowdown and energy prices were back of mind this week as new home sales showed surprising strength and oil traded at a one month low. Traders will be watching closely when oil inventory data is released at 10:30 a.m. and existing home sales are reported at 10 a.m--local time. Our Diana Olick will report on housing data. A Wall Street Journal report looks at mortgage applications data and says the housing market could be stabilizing. Oil prices are slightly higher this morning.

Asian shares closed higher but Europe is lower after early gains. The final two trading sessions of the year are upon us, and history tells us they are usually positive for stocks.