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Before The Bell: Retailers' Last Hope; Oil Headed Higher


Retailers are banking on a number of shoppers to finish their Christmas shopping today. Futures are up this Christmas Eve.


Morning Perspective: Retailers' Last Hope

WSJ reports U.S. retailers are hoping that final sales figures today for the holiday season will meet growth expectations. Stores such as Macy's (M), Sears Holdings (SHLD), and Kmart have enticed shoppers with deeper discounts and longer operating hours. Further, retailers are expecting many consumers to finish their shopping today as a survey by America's Research Group reported 71% of the 800 people surveyed had finished Christmas shopping. Typically 85% would have been done by this time. For more on the consumer, read Professor Kevin Depew's Five Things You Need To Know.

From the Bull Pen: Bulls may look to J.Crew (JCG) for an upside try. Sell-stops may be placed below recent lows ($47). Gap (GPS) may also be an option, sell-stops below $21.

From the Bear Cave: Retail bears may be more skeptical of the accommodations and heavy promotions believing sales are coming in at the expense of profit margins. Bears may press the downside in Macy's; buy-stops in the near term may be set above $27.

Oil Headed Higher

WSJ reports many analysts believe the price of crude oil will be higher even if the economy cools. With the U.S. consuming 25% of the world's oil output, prices have long correlated with the performance of the U.S. economy. However, recent data has shown that the price of crude oil is beginning to decouple from the U.S. as many expect world-wide consumption to increase even with growing recession fears in the domestic economy. Recently, Goldman Sachs (GS) raised its benchmark crude prices to $95 a barrel from $85 just a month ago. For more read Professor Adam Michael's Trends Affecting Oil Price.

From the Bull Pen: Professor Michael has positively mentioned plays in the oil service sector such as Transocean (RIG); near-term sell-stops may be set below the breakout at $140. Schlumberger (SLB) may also be considered; sell-stops below $88 (200-DMA).

From the Bear Cave: Bears looking for a correction in oil may enter into a quick downside play in the oil ETF (USO) should the stock rally to $76.50. Buy-stops may be set above.

Click on Minyanville's Stocks To Watch for more company-specific ideas.

Quick Check Around the World

Asian trading closed with the Hang Seng +1.82%, Sensex +3.61%, Taiwan +2.44% and Shanghai +2.60%.

A quick check towards Europe finds the CAC +0.22% and the FTSE +0.72%.

A Look At Commodities

Crude oil is higher this morning +0.02 to 93.33. Gold is lower -1.80 to 809.80. Silver is up +0.15 to 14.34 and copper is up +13.50 to 309.35.

The dollar index is down -0.18 to 77.53.

As of 8:00 AM ET, S&P futures are up +1.60 points and Nasdaq futures are higher by +0.75 points.

On the Radar

This week will be a light week. No events are scheduled today and equity markets close at 1:00 PM EST.

Click here for the full trading radar.

Merry Christmas Minyans! Have a great day!

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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