STOCKS FALL: Here's What You Need To Know

Notre Dame football fans

Photo: ESPN

A down day before the beginning of earnings season.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 13,328, -55.4, -0.4 per cent
S&P 500: 1,457, -4.7, -0.3 per cent
NASDAQ: 3,091, -7.0, -0.2 per cent

And now the top stories:

  • There wasn’t a whole lot of news to move markets today.  Despite today’s sell-off, it’s worth noting that the S&P 500 is still near its five-year high.
  • There seems to be a bit of anxiety ahead of Q4 earnings season.  “Investors are waiting to see if there was some collateral damage from the battle over the fiscal cliff,” writes LPL Financial’s Jeff Kleintop. “Macroeconomic factors have been the key driver of the market lately, but microeconomics will begin to garner investors’ attention in the coming weeks as companies begin to release their fourth quarter earnings reports.”
  • For the most part, analysts have been revising their earnings forecasts downward, notes stock market guru Ed Yardeni. But that’s not the end of the world.  “The bottom line is that the bottom line for S&P 500 companies on a 12-month (and on a 52-week) forward basis rose to a record high at the beginning of this year even though analysts have been lowering their estimates for 2012 and 2013.”
  • The Federal Reserve published another healthy reading on consumer credit.  Total consumer credit outstanding jumped by $16.0 billion in November.  Economists were looking for a gain of just $12.7 billion. Revolving credit (e.g. credit cards) climbed by 1.1 per cent, while non-revolving debt (e.g. car loans, student loans) grew 9.6 per cent.
  • In company-specific news, Yum Brands slashed its earnings outlook, blaming bad publicity from an ongoing probe of chicken suppliers by the Chinese government.  The stock fell today.
  • aluminium giant Alcoa kicks of Q4 earnings season after the bell today.  We’ll cover it LIVE on
  • Don’t Miss: GOLDMAN: These Are The 23 Best Stocks For Fat Dividends And Big Buyback Plans >

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