Money Minute: Walmart Begins Holiday Sales; October Not So Scary for Stocks


Surprise! The holiday shopping season is already underway. That and more top money stories you need to know Friday. website

No need to wait for Black Friday to start your holiday shopping. Walmart (WMT) kicks off its online deals Friday, nearly a month earlier than usual. It's partly because retailers are worried that sales could be pretty tame this year, and partly because Thanksgiving comes very late this year, leaving fewer shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas.

Good news for millions of workers who use flexible spending accounts to help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. The IRS is getting rid of its "use-it-or-lose-it" policy. Starting next year, you'll be able to carry over up to $500 of unused money into the following year. Employees are allowed to contribute up to $2,500 into these tax-deferred accounts each year. But up until now, you'd forfeit any money not used that year.

Halloween was only a little bit spooky for investors. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 73 points Thursday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 6 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) dropped 11 points. But for all of the often-haunted month of October, the Dow jumped nearly 3 percent in October, and the S&P rallied 4.5 percent.

Shares of General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) could be on the move today, as automakers report sales for October. expects both GM and Ford to post double-digit gains. That means the government shutdown did little to slow down demand.

Shares of First Solar are set to shine after the company's earnings more than doubled, charging past expectations. The company's stock has also doubled from a year ago.

Finally, everyone is all a-twitter over Twitter's IPO next week, but there's another initial public offering Friday that could grab a lot of attention. The Container Store priced its IPO at $18 a share. That's at the high-end of expectations. The retailer of storage and organization systems plans to expand from just 62 stores now to about 300 over the next few years. The company has made Fortune's list of "Best Companies to Work For" for 14 straight years.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.