Still no fiscal cliff deal.
First the scoreboard:
And now the top stories:
- Today's economic data didn't get much attention in the media, but they were certainly notable.
- The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index plunged 5.6 points in November to 87.5. "Something bad happened in November," wrote NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. "It wasn't merely Hurricane Sandy. The storm had a significant impact on the economy, no doubt, but it is very clear that a stunning number of owners who expect worse business conditions in six months had far more to do with the decline in small-business confidence."
- "The plunge in the headline number was the result of the sharp drop to -35% in the net balance of those expecting a better economy," observed TD Securities economist Millan Mulraine. "In fact, the decline is even worse than the performance following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008." That's a scary milestone.
- The U.S. trade deficit widened to $42.2 billion in October. All major export categories and most major import categories fell.
- We still have no fiscal cliff deal. "The longer the White house slow walks this process, the closer we get to the fiscal cliff," said House Speaker John Boehner. "American people have to be scratching their heads wondering when is the president going to get serious."
- Meanwhile, defense sector stocks (ITA) hit an all-time high today. Stifel Nicolaus strategist Dave Lutz recently told us that defense stocks are "ground zero" for the fiscal cliff, as the sequester would likely slash government funds going their way. "What Fiscal Cliff/Sequestration?" LPL Financial's Jeff Kleintop asked rhetorically.
- Today's bullish move could've been the result of a short squeeze, noted Dave Lutz. Among the outperformers today were Intel and Pioneer Natural Resources, both among the most heavily shorted stocks in the market. SEE ALSO: The 50 Stocks That Hedge Funds Are Shorting Like Crazy >
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