The days are getting shorter, but that doesn't have to mean your portfolio goes into hibernation. Here's some news that might help you prepare for the colder days ahead.

1. American workers stagnate
What happened? According to the U.S. government, newly released data from the month of October shows that business productivity unexpectedly slowed, the unit cost of labor -- a good metric for the rate of inflation -- increased, and overall sales for major American retailers were down.

What does this mean for your portfolio? Amid the great rally of the markets recently, it's easy to overlook some of this significant data. But now that earnings season has drawn to a close, it might be wise to take a serious look at some of the financial metrics measuring economic growth. While there's still plenty to be happy about, such as continued sub-$60 oil prices and good employment numbers, perhaps it's time to evaluate your portfolio for a cooler economy.

2. CVS responds with counterattack
What happened? On Wednesday, drugstore powerhouse CVS (NYSE:CVS) acquired Caremark Rx (NYSE:CMX) for $21.2 billion in stock. In theory, the move positions CVS to negotiate better deals with large pharmaceuticals.

What does this mean for your portfolio? The battle with Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) -- which has begun to supply cheap generic drugs -- has just begun, and on paper, the buyout seems like a smart one. However, as many an analyst suggests, actual integration between the two giants may prove to be more costly than prior independence. Personally, I think the long-term implications of the deal will be positive for CVS, but it will take considerable time to integrate and synergize.

3. American investors start to harbor their ships
What happened? Data indicates that U.S. investors have begun to pull away from equity and have moved into fixed-income positions at a much higher than average rate. According to Emerging Portfolio, global bonds comprised mostly of major European sovereigns and American Treasuries saw weekly net inflows of about $460 million over the past two weeks. That's more than double the weekly average year to date. Meanwhile, equity funds saw inflows of about $290 million, down almost 50% from weekly average inflows year to date.

What does this mean for your portfolio? This is bad news bears for people looking to experience quick gains in the market, but repositioning your entire portfolio over to fixed income is not necessary.

4. M icrosoft makes bold statements on China
What happened? Microsoft (NASDAQ:MFST) senior executive Fred Tipson recently alluded to the company's unhappiness with China's political environment. He was quoted as saying, ""Things are getting bad ... and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there.... We have to decide if the persecuting of bloggers reaches a point that it's unacceptable to do business there."

What does this mean for you portfolio? Among other things, socially responsible investing seems to be a trend of late. But in terms of Microsoft actually withdrawing from China, I find that event highly unlikely. Personally, between the two, Microsoft needs China more than the other way around.

5. The King has a Whopper quarter
What happened? Sorry for the bad joke there, but it's true. Q3 numbers for Burger King (NYSE:BKC) reflect an 82% increase in net income to $40 million, and a 7% increase in revenues. That's in addition to about 2.5% worldwide comps (which gives Burger King 11 quarters of consecutive positive comps sales growth).

What does this mean for your portfolio? The fast food No. 2 is currently sitting pretty after its May 2006 IPO. It's utilizing its free cash flow to pay down debt and is currently considering using its excess cash for either a dividend payout or share buybacks. This is especially promising after BK's announcement that it would voluntarily test out trans-fat-free oil in its cooking. Restaurants might as well bite the bullet now and get this transition over with, as I suspect the law will become more prevalent.

6. Betting on the house
What happened? As Motley Fool analyst Jim Fink puts it, he'll take the odds of people who are actually putting money on the outcome. According to, odds makers are putting the likelihood of Republicans keeping control of the House of Representatives at only about 27%, whereas the likelihood of Republicans holding on to control of the Senate is much higher, at about 70%. Other handicappers indicate similar figures.

What does this mean for your portfolio? As discussed in our most recent GreenLight issue, the mid-term means money, according to a 2004 study by Martin Bohl and Kartin Gottschalk. The study tracks which party controls the White House and what the stock market returns are during that period. While the results slightly favor the Democratic Party for overall returns, the most impressive data indicates that returns are almost 655 times better during the second half of a Presidential term than the first. Regardless of who wins, this study shows that there might be money to be made in the next two years.

7. Microsoft turns the tables
What happened? Sorry for the second such Microsoft article, but this news warrants it. After years of trying to eliminate rival Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL), Microsoft has announced that it will develop a software platform that allows users to perform activities on both operating systems: Linux and Windows.

What does this mean for your portfolio? For serious PC users, this is a mild revolution and probably means increased compatibility on all platforms. Stockwise, I'm not exactly sure how to interpret the results. Certainly, it makes Windows more pervasive than it once was, but whether or not it adds anything to shareholder value remains to be seen. I do see it as a victory for Novell, however.

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Fool contributor Nick Kapur owns shares of Wal-Mart. Microsoft and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Valuerecommendations.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.