5 Things to Watch When the Market Reopens

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The financial markets are closed for the Christmas holiday, but when trading resumes on Wednesday, here's what's likely to help shape the rest of the week on Wall Street.

1. Attack of the Holiday Gift Cards. With Christmas shopping and other gift-bearing holidays fading in the rear-view mirror toward the latter half of the week, let's talk retail.

We'll get an early read on how the holiday season went soon enough. Amazon.com (AMZN) has a habit of putting out a press release a few days after Christmas providing some insight as to its top sellers during the season. (Spoiler alert: It's usually a lot of Kindle and Kindle Fire products.) Traditional retailers typically follow with their December sales reports in early January.

However, the one interesting aspect of this years numbers will derive from growing popularity of gift cards. Sales of gift cards will top $110 billion this year, according to a CEB TowerGroup research report. Which means that even though the days following Christmas are usually brutal for retailers, with more people holding gift cards (which often drive sales beyond their face value), the registers may still continue to ring long after Santa's back at the North Pole.

2. Sirius XM Covers Pandora's Hit Song. Satellite radio is big business. Sirius XM (SIRI) closed out its most recent quarter with 23.4 million subscribers, and it's hungry for more. In an effort to get drivers already paying for access through their factory-installed car receivers to shell out a little more, the company began offering on-demand Internet access to many of its more popular shows this summer.

Sirius XM has also been promising personalized Internet radio -- offering a similar experience to Pandora (P) -- by the end of the year. Well, we're closing in on the end of 2012, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the music discovery feature isn't ready in the coming days, though Sirius XM did stick to its goal of launching an on-demand service during the second half of this year. It could be a game changer for Sirius XM, especially since Pandora already has more than 60 million active listeners.

3. A Redbox Kiosk in Your Hand. Another digital service that has been pointing to a 2012 launch is Redbox Instant by Verizon. Leading wireless carrier Verizon (VZ) and Redbox parent Coinstar (CSTR) have been working on a digital movie service that aims to cash in on Netflix's (NFLX) market.

The service -- now in beta, but set for a commercial rollout either late this year or early next year -- is priced similarly to Netflix's $7.99 a month subscription. The movie library is smaller. There reportedly aren't any TV shows. However, the plan does include four nightly credits for traditional Redbox kiosk rentals.

The combination of digital streaming bundled with about $5 worth of Redbox rentals every month may make the service a compelling choice for regular Redbox renters. Verizon will surely be pushing the service to its wireless customers.

The battle will play itself out through 2013 and beyond, but it may very well start this week.

4. Bah Humbug at the Golden Arches: If you're craving a Holiday Mint McFlurry or a McCafe Egg Nog Shake on Christmas Day you may be in luck.

McDonald's (MCD) is asking its franchisees to open on Christmas Day.

Naturally, this isn't going over so well with activist groups that feel the world's largest restaurant chain may be asking too much of employees who are already on the low end of the wage scale. Should grandma be scooping up fries out of the basket instead of handing over presents by the tree?

McDonald's argues that it's just good business. The chain told franchisees that the average company-owned restaurant that opened last Christmas took in $5,500 in sales that day. That should increase if more consumers on the road know that the burger giant is open on Christmas.

Leftovers can only go so far. Right?

5. Cliffhanger: We can't forget about the fiscal cliff.

This remains a serious and as of yet unresolved situation that needs to be resolved this month. If not, dramatic tax increases and cuts in spending will kick in. One side wants tax hikes for the wealthy. One side wants spending cuts across the board. Neither side wants those things to the extent that they'd get them if the fiscal cliff doesn't get resolved.

It's is a fluid situation. Negotiations continue. The clock is ticking down on a matter that could send the economy spiraling back into recession if it isn't resolved. Will it be a Happy New Year? We can only hope.

Motley Fool writer Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, McDonald's, and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Amazon.com, McDonald's, and Netflix.


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20 Comments

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COMMON SENSE

For 2013, Get out of the stock market. The Risk compared to the Reward is not worth the gamble. Tax and spend Obamacrats.re-distribute the WEALTH. More jobs lost and more companies that can will leave America.

More than 13 percent of the workforce is expected to face unemployment at some point in the New Year. This means that one in every eight workers—and their families—will be forced to cope with the financial and emotional burden of temporary unemployment this coming year.

Obamacare alone contains over $800 billion in tax increases, and the first wave of those increases are set to occur in 2013-14. MONEY HAS BEEN TAKEN FRO MEDICARE BY OBAMA.

I see the government idiots that we voted for still making bad decisions. You know you live in a Country run by idiots if….Hard work and success are rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion, while slothful, lazy behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, Welfare checks, subsidized housing, and free cell phones.

December 29 2012 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jdykbpl45

It go down!

December 26 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jdykbpl45

It go down!

December 26 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jdykbpl45

It go down!

December 26 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jdykbpl45

It go down!

December 26 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
estein4124

Here we go. Hang on. Dollar is down. Oil is up over 3% and the day isn't over yet.

December 26 2012 at 2:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Karen

How can you Republic Nuts be so hateful at Christmas. Have some faith.

December 26 2012 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Karen's comment
michelebachmann9

We republicans are full of gloom and doom.

December 26 2012 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to michelebachmann9's comment
mrspelosi

Darling did the caretakers at the asylum give you some new padding for your padded room dear?

December 26 2012 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
mrspelosi

What is a Republic Nut dear? Oh and by the way your comment appears to be quite hateful darling. How unfortunate for you.

December 26 2012 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

I'm returning any digested gift's of food products that I have received

December 25 2012 at 8:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

The optimists are reporting from behind their gated communities because they feel so safe about the future.

December 25 2012 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ectullis

5 Things to Watch When the Market Reopens. Why reopen it?

December 25 2012 at 5:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ectullis's comment
Iselin007

They have to open the markets again otherwise the shell game will be exposed causing a run on the banks and every broker's phone will jammed with calls.

December 25 2012 at 8:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

If the markets don't reopen there will be a run on the banks and every broker's phone will be jammed with calls.

December 25 2012 at 8:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply