What to watch, courtesy of Yahoo! Finance's Elizabeth Trotta:
Asian markets were rattled by the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, but European markets edged higher and futures are pointing to a higher open for stocks in the U.S.
Kim Jong Il reportedly suffered a heart attack on Saturday, but it seems no one, including South Korean intelligence services, was aware the North Korean leader had died until his passing was announced on state television on Monday. (See Information Black Hole As North Korean Leader Dies)
Congress continues to deliberate over the payroll tax cut for 160 million U.S. workers, after House Republicans balked at a deal worked out in the Senate. The House of Representatives returns Monday to either change the bill the Senate passed or request a meeting to resolve differences. (See Payroll-Tax Cut in Limbo as U.S. Lawmakers Brace for Fiscal-Policy Fight)
Monday kicks off a series of data this week on the state of the housing industry with the NAHB Housing Index at 10 a.m., followed by housing starts and building permits on Tuesday, the MBA Mortgage Index and existing home sales on Wednesday, and Mortgage rates and the FHFA Housing price index on Thursday. The third estimate on 3rd quarter GDP and a handful of consumer data are also expected later in the week.
10 a.m. NAHB Housing Index (Expected 19, Prior 20)
(estimate from briefing.com)