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Pre-Market: Tesla Keeps 5-Star Safety Rating; Retailers Lose Holiday Foot Traffic

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Transportation orders drove durable goods orders last month.

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Stocks are oscillating between gains and losses going into a shortened trading session for Christmas Eve as investors await housing data. This season was particularly hard for brick-and-mortar retail, however.

Future contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 0.02% to 16,242.00 before the opening bell. After closing at a fresh record yesterday, futures on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 0.03% to 1,822.00. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.01% to 3,565.00. In observance of Christmas Eve, stock markets will close at 1 p.m. and bond markets will close an hour later. Both will be closed all day tomorrow. As usual, it isn't uncommon for traders to sit today out, so lower trading volume is expected.

Durable goods orders fared far better than expected last month, driven by new transportation orders. New orders rose 3.5% in November after falling 0.7% in October. The consensus estimate was for a 1.5% rise. Excluding transport, however, orders only rose 0.3%, missing experts' projections.

More housing data is on the way this morning. New-home sales for November are likely to have sold at an annualized rate of 450,000, up from 444,000 in October. New-home sales jumped by more than 25% in the month before last. The Federal Housing Finance Agency's House Price Index for October will also come out. Economists expect the index to rise 0.4% month-over-month after rising 0.3% in September.

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) gained 3.2% in pre-market trading after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reaffirmed that the Model S still holds a five-star safety rating despite concerns over recent battery fires. For more on Tesla's recent PR crises related to fires, see "How Tesla Found Itself on the Defense."

Last week, retailers saw a 3.1% year-over-year drop in in-store sales, according to ShopperTrak, an analytics company that counts store traffic. The stores might seem crowded, but customer traffic was 21% lower than a year ago. This was far worse than analysts had predicted for those crucial shopping days that retailers depend on. The recent credit breach at Target (NYSE:TGT) did not help. Several states' attorney generals and two senators are investigating the cyber attack that compromised 40 million customers' data.

Margins are also squeezed because retailers like Macy's (NYSE:M) and Kohl's Corp (NYSE:KSS) are offering huge discounts and staying open non-stop. This all bodes badly for this quarter's retail earnings.


Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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