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The Week Ahead: Dec. 22-26

KEY EVENT: Reason to celebrate. On an abbreviated week because of Christmas, the state Labor Department on Tuesday releases Long Island unemployment rates for November. The local employment situation has been steadily improving, with more Long Islanders on payrolls and the unemployment rate trending lower. A strong report Tuesday would mean an unemployment rate under 5 percent for three straight months for only the second time since 2008.

MONDAY: Existing home sales for November from the National Association of Realtors. Earnings: office furniture maker Steelcase.

TUESDAY: Three reports from the Commerce Department: A third and final update on third-quarter GDP and new home sales and durable goods orders, both for October. Also, personal income and spending for November from the U.S. Labor Department and December consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan. Earnings: Walgreen.

WEDNESDAY: Jobless benefits claims for the week ended Dec. 20 from the Labor Department. Also, financial markets close early for Christmas Eve.

THURSDAY: Financial markets closed for Christmas.

FRIDAY: Financial markets are open, but when the day after Christmas falls on a Friday, it is typically the slowest trading day of the year for stocks.

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