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December 27, 2012  Thu 12:45 AM CT

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Several economic reports today focus on American consumers and workers.

Weekly jobless claims start the list of events at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists estimate that the number of people seeking initial benefits rose to 375,000 from 368,000 last week. A smaller reading would be bullish for stocks because it would indicate that fewer people have lost their jobs, while the opposite would be the case in the event of a higher reading.

New home sales and consumer confidence follow at 10 a.m. ET. The annualized pace of new home sales was expected to increase at a 379,000 in November from 368,000 the previous month. A stronger reading could be bullish for the market, especially for homebuilders and related stocks, while a lower figure could trigger selling.

Economists forecast that consumer confidence declined to 70 from 73.7 in November. Once again, a higher number would be bullish.

Natural-gas inventories will be released at 10:30 a.m. ET, which could sway sentiment toward some energy stocks.
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