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Good morning! Stock market futures today (Monday) forecast a 52-point gain for the Dow Jones from Friday's close. Higher oil prices and news that the Russian ruble is on the rise are the main contributors. The news comes after the S&P 500 reported its best weekly gains in roughly two months. This week, trading will consist of three-and-a-half trading sessions due to the Christmas Eve and Christmas holidays.
What to watch today: Investors will pay attention to the Chicago Fed National Activity Index and an update on home sales in a Holiday-shortened week. Consensus estimates expect sales to have fallen by 1.1% in November, which would drop the annualized rate to 5.20 million homes sold. The markets should continue to see strong optimism today ahead of a heavy round of economic data due on Tuesday. Tomorrow, the markets will take their third look at third-quarter GDP, and receive fresh reports on consumer consumption and personal goods.
Here's what else you should know about the stock market today – including your "Money Morning Tip of the Day" – to make it a profitable Monday:
- Another IPO Coming: This morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that China's largest smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi, will close another round of funding that values the firm at $45 billion. Xiaomi will raise roughly $1 billion in new private funding today, making it one of the most anticipated pre-IPO candidates on the world. The news comes just weeks after ride-sharing giant Uber announced it had raised funding that valued the company at $40 billion.
- Hack Attack: Business retailer Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS) announced that more than 1.16 million payment cards were breached in mid-September. The company said malware affected point-of-sale systems at 115 of its more than 1,400 domestic stores. The company reported the possible breach occurred between August and September.
- What a Deal: According to reports, Express Scripts Holding Co. (Nasdaq: ESRX) and AbbVie Inc. (Nasdaq: ABBV) have reached an exclusive deal that allows the pharmacy to sell a hepatitis C treatment at a significant discount to customers. According to the deal, Express Scripts will begin discounting the Viekira Pak hepatitis C to the company's 25 million customers on Jan. 1. As a result, the firm will not sell competing hepatitis C drugs manufactured by Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD).
- State Struggles: In response to the recent hack of Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), President Obama said that the government will consider placing North Korea back on a list of nations that sponsor terrorism. The news follows a decision by Sony Pictures to cancel the release of the movie "The Interview" after threats of terrorism were made against anyone who attended theaters to see the film. The movie, which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, features a plot in which two men go to North Korea with a plan to assassinate Kim Jung-Un, the current supreme leader of the county.
- Oil Prices Today: Oil prices hovered above $61 this morning on news that Chinese demand was leveling. Analysts also said they expect oil prices to remain in this range for the rest of the year. Saudi Arabian oil ministers also reiterated today their plan to maintain production. The Kingdom refuses to surrender market share. This morning WTI oil futures hit $56.74 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent crude hit $61.17 per barrel. This weekend, Money Morning Special Contributor Michael Hewitt explained how the fallout of declining oil prices will spread far and wide…
Economic Calendar: Today's economic calendar features an update on existing home sales and the Chicago Fed National Activity Index.
- Earnings Reports: Stay tuned for earnings reports from Steelcase Inc. (NYSE: SCS) and The Joint Corp. (Nasdaq: JYNT)
Full U.S. Economic Calendar December 22, 2014
- Chicago Fed National Activity Index at 8:30 a.m.
- Existing Home Sales at 10 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 3-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 6-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 2-Year Note Auction at 1 p.m.