Stocks begin the day as a year-end deadline nears with no deal in hand how to cut the U.S. government's budget deficit. Yesterday, the Dow fell 99 points. The S&P 500 lost 11 points and the Nasdaq dropped 10. There's been no big movement in the major indexes at the open.
- World stock markets are apparently reacting to the shift in tone on talks over how to avert a "fiscal cliff" before the end of the year. A downturn in U.S. housing starts also hurt sentiment. European stocks were lower in early trading. Stocks in Asia were mixed.
- The Commerce Department releases the third-quarter gross domestic product this morning. And the Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims. Also this morning, the National Association of Realtors reports on existing home sales for November. Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates and from the Conference Board, the leading indicators for November.
- Another Madoff is headed to prison. The brother of convicted swindler Bernard Madoff, Peter Madoff, will face some of the victims a multi-billion Ponzi scheme. It will happen today in New York, where he's expected to be sentenced to 10 years as part of a plea agreement for conspiracy and falsifying books and records. Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence.
- A group of British lawmakers is accusing the BBC of being cavalier with taxpayers' money by paying the U.S. equivalent of $730,000 in severance to its director-general when he quit after 54 days in the job. George Entwistle stepped down last month over the BBC's disastrous handling of fallout of a sex abuse scandal involving the late TV host Jimmy Savile.
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