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Will the Fed Taper? Tech giants pressure Obama; McDonald's miss same stores sales numbers

Will the Fed taper? That's the question for the holidays. Tech companies ask President Obama to quit spying on their customers. And a new drug approved by the FDA could send this stock soaring.

But first this morning's business headlines.

What's in store for a Fed taper? We may get some clues today, as three Federal Reserve officials are set to speak. These will be the last public statements from Fed members before the FOMC meeting next week – the 17th and 18th. And they'll come fresh from Friday's better than expected jobs report showing unemployment dropped to 7%.

After the government shutdown in October there is optimism in Washington that it won't happen again. At least not next month. The Wall Street Journal reports aides to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan worked over the weekend and the lawmakers plan to meet early this week. It's the last week of 2013 that the House and Senate are in Washington at the same time. Congressional leaders appear to be closing in on a budget deal, which would avert the threat of a shutdown well before the government runs out of funding January 15th. The proposed deal would allow $1 trillion in spending in each of the next two years.

Eight tech companies led by Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) have written an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress urging them to reform government surveillance practices. The letter states, "The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual." And the companies said they would continue make sure their user's data was secure and push back against government requests for that data. This letter comes in the wake of the revelations of NSA surveillance leaked by Edward Snowden over the summer. The other companies who signed the letter are AOL (AOL), Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD), Twitter (TWTR), and our parent company Yahoo (YHOO).

And there's a new king atop the box office. Disney's (DIS) Frozen dethroned The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which held the crown for the past two weeks. Frozen raked in over $31.5 million this weekend. Disney also recently announced that they have bought the rights to all future Indiana Jones films. Disney shares are up almost 40% year-to-date. We'll be right back with more news and four stocks to watch throughout the trading day.

Now a look at four stocks the Yahoo Finance team will be watching for you today.

First up, McDonald's (MCD). The fast-food giant just released same store sales numbers for November which show it increased 0.5% globally. In the U.S. McDonald's saw sales decrease 0.8%. Sales results come after the stock saw close to 1.5% rise late last week. McDonald's has lagged the market this year, up about 7.5% in that time.

Next, PVH Corp. (PVH), is expected to release earnings today. You might better recognize PVH as the owner of popular clothing companies, Calvin Klein, Izod and Tommy Hilfiger. The company is expected to post earnings of $2.24, a $.10 drop from a year ago. Though revenues are expected to rise 35% from a year ago to $2.22 billion. For the year, PVH shares are up over 16%.

Now, Given Imaging (GIVN). The Israeli company known for making swallowable pill cameras will be bought for $30-a-share or roughly about $860 million by medical device maker Covidien PLC (COV). The companies announced the plans Sunday. According to Covidien, the deal is expected to close sometime in March. It has been a good year for both companies so far as each is above 30% for the year.

Finally, Gilead Sciences (GILD). The drug maker got some great news over the weekend. The FDA has approved Sovaldi, a drug to help in the treatment of hepatitis C. Shares for Gilead are up over 41% year-to-date.

According to reports, lawmakers and aides are confident Congress will get a budget deal done well before funding runs out January 15th. Do you buy it? How much do you trust the government to prevent another shutdown from happening again? Vote your thoughts below in the daily Hot Stock Minute Poll. Or write something in the comments section.

 

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