We’re into the Christmas Run Up. The Dow, NASDAQ and S&P are all over the place, affected in large part by confusion in the EU. And as usual, providing personal finance advice, real estate advice and consumer advice on the Ilyce Glink Show December 11, 2011 on WSB Radio.

How can December 25th be just a couple weeks away? In the Christmas run up, I am going to my first Christmas party this afternoon. Like it or not, we hurtling toward the end of the year.

And with the approach of 2012, the financial numbers this week are nothing short of crazy.

1. The stock market

The Dow has been up and down all week, ending up 164 points in total. But those gains were all netted on Friday. The S&P was up 20 points by the close of the business week and the NASDAQ rose 50 points. But earlier in the week, the NASDAQ was down by the same amount.

2. Troubles in the European Union

The debt problems of various European Union nations are clearly affecting what’s going in markets at home. Britain decided not to participate in current EU plans in order to maintain its own dependence. This caused considerable unrest.

I recently came across an article that discussed U.S. bond traders. They are waking up at 1 and 2 AM everyday to read the headlines. The gist is that they need a sense of what’s going on in Europe in order to understand how their local trading day might play.

3. U.S. Job Numbers

On the plus side: first time unemployment claims fell to 389,000 last week, the lowest in four to six months. We also created 120,000 new jobs in November 2011. The national unemployment rate fell below 9 percent to 8.6 percent.

But enthusiasm over these numbers is tempered with reports that the labor participation rate is at its lowest since the 1980s.

4. Mortgages

Rates remain virtually unchanged at 3.86 percent on average. If you can refinance (and that’s a big “if” for many), now is clearly the time. That said, there is no evidence that this is causing a pickup in housing market activity.

Overall, there’s a real push and pull, pluses in the economic numbers offset by big minuses. The wild stock market swings reflect this phenomenon. It’s hard to envision stability ringing in the New Year, with 2012 just three weeks away.

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