Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:
Markets: The markets will await several critical pieces of data over the next several days. Stocks likely will not move much until this information is out. December car sales will show whether consumers still have an appetite for expensive products. The figures are expected to be strong. December same-store retail sales likely will do well. Analysts expect a rise of 4.3 percent. December unemployment figures had better show that at least 200,000 jobs were added to the economy.
Merkel and Sarkozy: President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel before all 27 EU leaders gather at the end of this month. It is a sign that just two nations hold the fate of the region in their hands. In a way, that is to be expected. The two have the largest GDPs among all of the region’s nations. Most experts expect that Merkel’s case for the future of the region will prevail over Sarkozy’s. She has more capital at her disposal than he does. If most of Merkel’s agenda for strict budget adherence among the Europeans, enforced by stiff sanctions, are at the core of a French-German proposal for a solution to the EU’s debt troubles, more of the leaders among the 27 countries will view Germany’s actions as a de facto takeover of the region’s monetary policy.
BP and Halliburton: BP has taken the audacious step of insisting that oil services company Halliburton incur all of the $21 billion in cleanup costs for the Deepwater Horizon explosion. BP says Halliburton workers were responsible for actions that caused the explosion on the rig. The fight between the two corporations is so substantial, and probably complex, that it will be in the U.S. court system for years.
Apple Rumors: Not a month goes by without rumors of a major announcement from Apple. Several report claim that the consumer electronics company will stage a meeting in NYC later this month. Some believe that Apple will introduce its iPad 3 or a new Apple TV product. Others believe it is too early in the product cycle to replace the hot selling iPad 2. In the past, Apple meetings that offer no big announcements were disappointments, which often sent shares of the company lower.