News from and about the Federal Reserve is likely to drive the market this week. The Fed's policy-making Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. The talk on Wall Street for the past few months has been about when Fed will begin to taper its $85 billion a month bond-buying program. Analysts say a decision to taper now could extend the market's recent decline.
And this is likely to be Ben Bernanke's last meeting as Fed chairman. The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on the nomination of current Vice Chairman Janet Yellin to replace him. There's also a possibility that President Obama will shortly nominate a successor for Yellin. The leading candidate is said to be Stanley Fischer, a well-regarded former chief economist at the World Bank who recently completed an eight-year stint as head of Israel's central bank. Fischer holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship.
Retailers are always a bit nervous at this time of year, and following two straight weekends of snowstorms across much of the nation, everyone from mom-and-pop store owners to giant chains have to be worried. But the weather could prove to have been a boon to Internet retailers, as many holiday shoppers had nothing to do this weekend but surf the web.
Speaking of holiday gifts, UPS (UPS) says today is its busiest pick-up day of the year. About 34 million packages will be picked-up -- and most of them will be delivered Tuesday.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Right before Friday's closing bell, reports surfaced that Sprint-Nextel (S) may be preparing a bid for T-Mobile (TMUS). A deal could be worth more than $20 billion, but it could face opposition from the Justice Department. Two years ago, antitrust regulators blocked AT&T (T) from acquiring T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom in a bid that was valued at $39 billion.
Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) , the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) all lost more than one percent last week.
Finally, two researchers at Yale have determined that charitable contributions actually go down when charities offer gifts such as tote bags or mugs. However, they tell the Wall Street Journal that those gifts may lead to more giving and more loyalty down the road.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.