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The Econ Data That's Been Driving the Christmas Gains

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Maybe you're still working off last night's eggnog binge, but hopefully you weren't the recipient of what the MarketSnacks team considers to be the year's worst gift -- naming a star after someone (brutal). The New York Stock Exchange was shut Wednesday for Christmas and closed early at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) still popped 63 points going into the holiday. Econ data's been driving this week's climb, and Thursday is all about weekly jobless claims.

1. Facebook & T-Mobile teamed up for free services
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) is free (if you have Internet access), but now for T-Mobile's (NASDAQ: TMUS  ) prepaid wireless subsidiary GoSmart, Facebook mobile access will be provided free even if you don't have a data plan. The news, announced Tuesday by both Facebook and T-Mobile, means free Facebook for all -- even smartphone users who can't afford data.

T-Mobile wins (and climbed 1%) since it can attract low-income, Facebook-addicted people to buy phones with their GoSmart plans. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, for just $25 a month, users will get unlimited calling and Facebook. Talk about enabling -- read about how T-Mobile's using a drug dealer's ploy by giving kids a try of the Internet for free (they'll be ready to pay once they've got a taste).

Facebook nudged up 0.3% on the news. Mark Zuckerberg's company will actually pay for the access, instead of the plan holders. How's that good for business? It's unclear, but with "" and other campaigns to bring Internet to the masses, Zuckerberg is putting on his finest hoodie and definitely experimenting with this new strategy to increase Facebook mobile access.  

2. Manufacturing and housing data dominated
First up, orders for durable goods (we're talking big-ticket items, like cars, planes, or anything that Mike Tyson owned before going broke) jumped 3.5% in November, much better than economists' expectations of a 2% rise. The pop was driven by increasing demand for small aircraft from American manufacturers.

On top of that, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that U.S. home prices rose 0.5% in October as a result of a tighter supply, as more homes keep getting sold (funny how Michael Jordan couldn't sell his house last week). That means new home sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000 homes sold -- that is the strongest two-month pace since mid-2008, baby.

The takeaway is that econ data continues to impress and show the economic recovery speeding up like red-nosed Rudolph on Red Bull. Because of this trend, the Federal Reserve announced last week that it will slow its economic stimulus policies a tad -- although investors love them some stimulus and were glad the Fed's stimulus program isn't completely gone, they're starting to understand why the central bank is pulling in the reins.

  • Weekly jobless claims
  • The New York Stock Exchange is open (though your boss is still on vacation)
As originally published on

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