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Jobless claims, housing, banks on tap

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Today's calendar focuses on jobless claims, housing starts, and earnings reports by key bank names.

Jobless claims and housing starts are both scheduled for 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect about  370,000 new unemployment filings, down from 371,000 last week. A significantly lower number could be bullish because it would mean that fewer people lost their jobs, while the opposite is true if the count rises.

Housing starts are expected to show activity quickening to an annualized pace of 889,000 in December versus 861,000 the previous month. A higher number would be considered positive.

Also before the opening bell, Citigroup and Bank of America are scheduled to release fourth-quarter results.

Economic releases continue at 10 a.m. ET, when the Philadelphia Federal Reserve bank will publish the economic-activity index for its region. Economists expect a reading of 5.2, up from 4.6 last month.

Shortly after the closing bell, semiconductor giant Intel will announce earnings. The report could have a big impact on the technology sector tomorrow morning.

Also in the evening, China will report fourth-quarter gross domestic product figures. That data could affect overall market sentiment, especially for materials and commodities.

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