5 Market-Shaking Stories to Watch Besides the Fiscal Cliff

Wednesday, 05 Dec 2012 07:37 AM

By Patrick Watson

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Fiscal cliff stories dominate the media, but the rest of the world is still turning. Here are some other market-moving events to watch as the calendar rolls into 2013. Your investment forecast could change in a heartbeat if we get a surprise or two.

• Europe is still on the edge of a recession — and that's the least of their worries over there. Greece's government is trying this week to cut its debt load and receive additional international aid. A restless public is in no mood for more austerity, but refusal to comply could push the euro currency union closer to a breakup.

• The Middle East is not getting any more peaceful. This fall we've seen riots in Benghazi and Cairo, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, civil war in Syria, nuclear intransigence by Iran and an attempt by Egypt's president to seize near-total power over his country.

• Back on this side of the pond, we're waiting for President Barack Obama to appoint new cabinet secretaries, including a successor to Timothy Geithner at the Treasury. His choice will signal the administration's intent on a host of market-related issues.

• Quarterly corporate news is already leaking ahead of the official earnings releases in January. Much of it could change as the holiday shopping season unfolds, of course. We'll find out if consumers are really as free-spending as the Black Friday crowds made it seem.

• This Friday, Dec. 7, will bring the Labor Department's monthly employment report. The consensus forecast shows the headline jobless rate ticking up to 8.0 percent and nonfarm payrolls growing by 80,000. As always, revisions to prior months may be more important.

Traders on Wall Street know all this is coming, and their activity reflects the current expectations. That's why surprises are so important. Yet surprises seem to be more and more what we get these days.

Keep one eye on the news while you enjoy the holidays, because you never know when a curve ball is coming.

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