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December markets: 3 things to watch

Futures pointing lower on the open as the last month of 2014 gets underway. Here are three things you need to know this week and into the year end countdown.

Today is Cyber Monday which seemed a lot more exciting before Thanksgiving weekend laid an egg with consumers. As we've been pointing out for more than a month, retailers started Black Friday right after Halloween this year. As a result the headlines are grim for last week, down as much as 11% depending on whether you listen to the National Retail Federation, ShopperTrak or IBM.

Related: Amazon and Walmart have already started their holiday sales

The truth is Christmas is still on pace to rise about 3-5% for November and December. That's what matters. Watch the price action in retailers like Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Best Buy (BBY) today. Any retailer worth its salt is going to be updating sales data all week so you aren't going to have to wait long for the truth to reveal itself, whatever it may be.

Energy is getting hammered again with WTI crude falling below $65 at one point and Brent not much better than that. Generally speaking dropping energy (XLE) is good but dislocations are bad. Traders get very nervous when commodities go into free-fall. No matter what you think about the impact on the consumer of low gas versus potential losses of jobs in shale, crude dropping 10% in a week is bad for all assets. Expect the smell of fear and keep on eye on $65 for the WTI.

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Finally, Gold is getting smacked yet again. This time fingers are being pointed at the Swiss who voted down a proposal to have its central bank add to physical gold holdings. Not that we need the excuse. There hasn't been anything precious about metals for two years. Gold has support in the mid $1,100's. Holders of the GLD ETF (GLD) hopefully have support in the form of a strong circle of friends.

That's what you need to know. Stay tuned to Yahoo Finance for updates throughout the trading day.

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