The Holidays Are Coming: Will the Market Be Merry?

by: Chris Krasowski

The first week of December has been one dominated by the sordid affairs of Professional Golf's most notorious figure, and as the rumor mill churns to fill gossip websites and supermarket rags, critical economic, fiscal and international issues are bumped to Page 2. So let's take a look back at what's been making the rounds.

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, always seemingly juggling several critical agendas, has his work cut out for him as he steers the US Senate in the Healthcare debate behind closed doors, outlines a plan to send 30,000 more troops to support the War in Afghanistan and holds a Jobs Summit to deal with unemployment. The Administration hopes to deploy unused or paid back Financial Bailout Money to support small businesses in lending and hiring and to ignite countrywide infrastructure and energy efficiency projects, and to top that all off, the newest plans laid out call for the creation of the biggest government transparency project in the Nation's history.

Certainly an ambitious agenda that is sparking controversy from both sides of the American political aisle, but as Healthcare is being actively debated in the floor of the Senate, a passage of a reform bill seems ultimately likely. As for jobs, a very positive report for November had the US losing only 11,000 jobs in that month, with further reductions in previous month loss estimates. A far cry from the over 700,000 per month that were lost in the early parts of the recession. Still, with unemployment sitting at 10% of Americans, something more has to be announced and followed through by the Administration.

On the market's side, the recent rally in Gold finally hit a bit of a stumbling block as the US Dollar found some fitting via comments from Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. An interesting trade on gold has been a double gold short fund, PowerShares Double Gold Short (DZZ), posting a 15% gain over the last 5 trading sessions, including a 4% gain Tuesday. As economic footing returns along with the possibility of rising Interest Rates in the US into next year, this is a really interesting speculation play on a breather in Gold's record rally.

Bank Of America (BAC) has indicated its intention of paying back $45Billion in financial rescue money it had received from the Government as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP], leaving its banking brethren Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) still without plans for re-payment.

Technology news has several firms in the spotlight. Google (GOOG) has recently hosted an event in which it showcased several new search initiatives, including real-time search, which includes public updates from social spaces such as Twitter and Facebook, a Google Goggles tongue-twister project, which allows mobile phones running Android and soon other platforms to take photographs of virtually anything and get legions of information back to the smartphone.

Apple (AAPL) has purchased music streaming service Lala, which for all intents and purposes seems to likely fit into the mold of furthering a cloud-based iTunes architecture and perhaps a streaming alternative to the pay for download model the company has currently been enjoying. With all eyes on a potential tablet offering from the electronics company, several publishers are already lining up to create a joint venture that will put the likes of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine in specific new tablet formats with advanced interactive and connectivity features.

In the entertainment world, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) set all sorts of records with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, selling pretty much a bazillion copies of the popular franchise video game and making more money in 24 hours than any other release in the history of entertainment.

As Christmas comes around the corner, in the retail and tech space it'll be interesting to see what the must-have gadget of the year is to be. Will the iPhone dominate again, will console wars push to new sales highs, will consumer spending continue to rise as the jobs picture improves on a bedrock of subtle economic growth?

This time of year always seems to set traders into a bullish mood, and that will be especially true if reports of record bonuses from the financial industry continue to ring true. But just remember, Goldman Sachs (GS) can't be blamed for everything, or can it?

Disclosure: Author owns C, GS, AAPL, GOOG