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Ticker Shock: GMAC Scores a Bailout; Amazon Puts Other Retailers To Shame

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Friday's top stories and stocks with potential to move.

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Boy, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts the stores are going to be busy today. Returns and bargain hunters galore. I was thinking about getting out there myself just to see what kinds of deals I might find, but wrestling my mother and her friends over a cheap box of holiday lights doesn't sound all that appealing.

Anyway, getting down to business, the Hang Seng was closed for the holidays, but the Nikkei was up more than 1%. Europe also has the day off, and here in the US we're currently trading higher.

Here's what I'm watching:

Retailers
Overall, Santa's sleigh was a little lighter this year. Our own Terry Woo reported that "total year-over-year sales, excluding automobiles, dropped 8% in December."

Ouch.

But given the same-store sales results we've seen from industry stalwarts like J.C. Penney (JCP), Macy's (M), Nordstrom (JWN) and Target (TGT), it's not all that surprising.

Incidentally, I want to point out that in spite of the recent carnage, I'm optimistic about the sector's longer-term prospects. I think we can still safely classify ourselves as a nation of to perk up. consumers. We love to shop, we like nice things and sooner or later the situation is bound

Simplistic? Maybe. But I think once folks get some Benjamins back in their pockets, they'll be doling them out with a smile. My point: We've learned very little from the recent crisis.

General Motors (GM)
According to Reuters, "GMAC LLC, the financing arm of General Motors, won Federal Reserve approval on Wednesday to become a bank holding company" and "shares of General Motors rose nearly 14% to $3.70."

So, am I feverishly calling in a buy order for shares of the beleaguered automaker on this news? Not quite. Sure, its positive for GMAC, but unless General Motors changes -- or proves it will change -- the way it does business, I'm just not hopping aboard. Sorry, Detroit bulls, but I'd rather deploy cash elsewhere.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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