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  1. Markets rose in Asia; European markets shed early gains; U.S. markets opened down and continue falling as of 11:00.
  2. The Consumer Confidence index rose to 88.6 from a revised 87.8 in November, but consumers remain "far from optimistic." Initial jobless claims rose 1,000 to 349,000. Continuing claims were up 75K to 2.71 million, their highest level in two years. Durable goods orders rose (.pdf) 0.1% on strong aircraft sales; economists were looking for 2.9%.
  3. Goldman Sachs analysts said Citigroup (C) may cut its dividend by 40% in order to preserve capital, and may announce Q4 CDO-related writeoffs of $18.7B, up from a previous estimate of $11B. Goldman also said Merrill Lynch (MER) may post Q4 CDO-related writeoffs of $11.5B up from a previous estimate of $6B, and that JP Morgan (NYSE:JPM) may post a Q4 CDO-related writeoff of $3.4B vs. a previous estimate of $1.7B.
  4. Dillard's (DDS), Macy's (M) and Home Depot (HD) all slashed prices the day after Christmas as U.S. retailers attempted to avoid the worst holiday-shopping season since 2002.
  5. Troubled student lender Sallie Mae (SLM -5.5%) plans to raise $2.5B through public stock offerings, in order to settle obligations incurred on forward committments to buy its own shares at (now-elevated) prices.
  6. WSB Sponsor
  7. Apple (AAPL +1.6%) will recieve a contract from News Corp.'s (NASDAQ:NWS) Twentieth Century Fox to rent Fox movies digitally via Apple's iTunes Store, in a deal to be announced today. Fox will also release DVDs using Apple's digital rights management system.
  8. Crude inventories fell 3.3M this week vs. consensus estimates of -1.62M. Gasoline inventories were up 636,000 vs. consensus estimates of +1.55M. Distillates fell 2.77M vs. consensus of -900,000. Oil traded up $1.33.
  9. EMC Corp. (EMC -2.3%) will acquire Document Sciences Corp. (DOCX +75.8%) in a cash transaction valued at approximately $85M. DOCX is a leading provider of document output management software.
  10. U.S. home prices showed broad based, record declines through October according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The index's Ten-City measure fell 6.7% annually, a record low.
  11. Billionaire George Soros disclosed a 5.2% passive stake (4.6M shares) in Cirrus Logic (CRUS +5.2%).
Source: The 10 Stories to Know Thursday