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Retail, employment data on docket

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Today's economic data focuses on U.S. consumers and employment.

More than a dozen retailers will report December same-store sales before the bell, so companies in that sector could be active. Expectations have mostly been lowered for the holiday shopping season, which could lead to rallies if results are positive.

The employment data begins at 8:15 a.m. ET, when ADP issues its monthly jobs report. Economists forecast growth of about 145,000, up from 118,000 in November. A higher number would be viewed as bullish, while a lower one could be seen as negative.

Weekly jobless claims follow 15 minutes later at 8:30 a.m. ET. The reading it expected to increase to 365,000 from 350,000 in the previous week. For this report, lower numbers would be considered positive because it would mean that fewer people lost their jobs.

The Energy Department will report its weekly change in oil inventories at 11 a.m. ET, which could affect energy stocks.

Another batch of data follows at 2 p.m. ET when the Federal Reserve issues minutes from its last meeting and auto makers report December sales. The Fed minutes could sway broader sentiment, while the vehicle sales may affect that industry group.

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