Heads up: There was no “Santa Claus” rally last week, and it might be hard to muster a flurry of strong stock trading this week, too, given prospects for more bleak economic news.On Tuesday, the Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index for December, and the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index for October comes out. On Wednesday, the Labor Department issues its weekly jobless-claims data. The first economic report out in 2009 could also be a downer. On Friday, the Institute for Supply Management releases its December factory index. Economists expect the lowest reading in almost three decades.
Wednesday: Many investors, holding battered stock and mutual-fund portfolios, will be happy to see the end of the 2008 trading year. … Make any last-minute tax-minimizing moves by this date: for instance, any check written to a charity or item donated by Dec. 31 can be deducted.
Thursday: Financial markets are closed for the New Year’s Day holiday. Check The Seattle Times for year-end stats on Northwest stocks’ 2008 performance. Washington state’s minimum wage will increase 48 cents to $8.55 an hour.