The new trading week kicks off with Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX) and Darden (NYSE: DRI) reporting their quarterly results.

As a payroll-outsourcing juggernaut, Paychex should provide a decent glimpse on the state of hiring in Corporate America. Analysts aren't expecting a lot of direction. They see Paychex earning $0.34 a share, a penny less than it did a year earlier on flattish top-line growth.

Darden runs the Olive Garden and Red Lobster casual-dining chains, so its report should be a reasonable gauge on eating-out trends. Are the unlimited soup and breadsticks at Olive Garden or those succulent cheese biscuits at Red Lobster enough to turn the tables? We'll find out on Monday.

(NYSE: KMX) and Finish Line (Nasdaq: FINL) hit the quarterly registers on Tuesday. The pros see only marginal bottom-line improvement at the used-car and athletic-footwear retailers, but at least they're both running in the right direction.

Micron Technology
(Nasdaq: MU) and Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) take to the earnings stage on Wednesday. Both the tech bellwether and drugstore chain are pegged to improve on their profitability from the same period a year earlier.

This is the final trading day of the week, and you won't find stateside companies keeping analysts in the office on conference calls when everyone wants to be home for Christmas. There will be a few overseas companies reporting, but none of the dynamic ones that trade actively over here.

The market is closed in observance of Christmas. Now would be a good time to tend to any last-minute gift-wrapping.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look forward. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early, and he owns no shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.