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Morning Outlook

Last Week of the Year Could Be a Good One for Stocks

Morning OutlookFOXBusiness

The shortened-week between Christmas and New Years is typically a slow one, but a good one, for the stock market.

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Historically, over the last five days of the year, the Dow Industrials have rallied 80% of the time.

The best last-five day period was in 1899, when the Dow tacked on a whopping 9%.  The worst period was in 1937, when the Dow fell 5%.  The average gain is 1.2%.

Traders will also try to move the Nasdaq into positive territory for 2011 - it’s down 1.3%. The S&P 500, meanwhile, made it into the black on Friday. It’s now 0.6% higher this year.

The holiday shopping season still has steam. In fact, analysts expect yesterday – a day dubbed “Mega Monday” – to be the third busiest shopping day of the holiday season, behind only Black Friday and Dec. 23 in terms of sales, according to ShopperTrak.

The cash registers may have rung up $29 billion in sales, as up to 60% more people may have hit the stores Monday compared to the same time last year.

IBM finds that shoppers didn’t even take a break on Christmas Sunday; online shopping rose more than 16% on the holiday. More and more people are shopping with their phones and tablets, too. Mobile sales rose by 173% over last year, according to IBM’s data.

But the strong holiday shopping spirit did not extend to Sears. The company will close more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores as a result.

Sears’ CEO Louis D'Ambrosio, in a company press release on the store closings, writes:

"Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model. These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail – at the store, online and in the home.”

Sears says the closings – and inventory sales – will generate around $150 million in cash.

“We expect these store closures to generate $140 to $170 million of cash as the net inventory in these stores is sold and we expect to generate additional cash proceeds from the sale or sublease of the related real estate.”

If you feel like you’re the only one working this week… you’re not. Office-space manager Regus says it will be business as usual for 64% of workers.

In fact, consultant Right Management says 70% of people surveyed have not used – and don’t plan to use – all their vacation days for 2011.  That’s up from 50% last year.

On the tech front, Google (NSDAQ"GOOG) may have its version of the Apple iPad very soon.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt told an Italian newspaper that plans are in the works to develop, market, and sell its own tablet in the next six months. Sales for previous Android tablets, like the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, have been lackluster.

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