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Market Insider: Wednesday Look Ahead

Stocks are trapped in the pre-holiday doldrums and will face some tough economic data ahead of Wednesday's shortened Christmas eve session.

Consumer spending and income, durable goods and weekly jobless claims are all reported ahead of the bell, at 8:30 a.m. The data comes just after Tuesday's reports of weak home sales and the biggest decline in housing prices since the Great Depression. The stock market closes at 1 p.m. and the bond market closes at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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On Tuesday, the Dow fell 100 points, or 1.2 percent to 8419, while the S&P 500 was down nearly 1 percent at 863.

Where's Santa?

Some traders believe it's more likely Santa will come down your chimney than come to Wall Street Wednesday. The elusive "Santa" rally has failed to materialize this week, and the market has had a quiet, but negative tone. "You see how atrocious the volume is, and it's tough getting anything started," said UBS Director of Floor Operations Art Cashin, in a phone interview.

"We were hoping Santa would get up in the air later in the day, but he can't get off the ground here," said Cashin Tuesday. "We'll see if he'll give it one more try tomorrow."

Cashin said history shows that the better timing for a Santa rally is in the days just after Christmas. Is he optimistic that will happen? "Optimism is too strong a word here," he said.

Econorama

Consumer spending is expected to be down 0.8 percent for November, and income is expected to be down 0.1 percent. Jobless claims are expected to come in at 560,000, up from 554,000. Durable goods order are expected to have a 3 percent decline in November.

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Oil and gas inventory data is reported Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Platts says its survey shows analysts expects a 1.5 million barrel build in crude oil stocks when the U.S. Energy Information Administration and American Petroleum Institute report weekly data. Gasoline inventories are expected to rise by 900,000 barrels. On Tuesday, oil continued its decline, falling 2.3 percent to $38.98 per barrel.

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