Investors are eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s December employment report, which has stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) moving in a narrow range. Perhaps as a clue, the Labor Department reported that weekly claims rose less than expected last week.

Same-store retail sales had their worst performance yet in 2009, but the year at least ended on a strong note. That has the International Council of Shopping Centers saying that same-store sales in 2010 could rebound as high as 3.5%. If the forecasts are correct, it would be the best performance in four years, reports Nicole Maestri for Reuters. December same-store sales rose 2.8%, the best performance of the year and the best since April 2008. The SPDR S&P Retail (NYSEArca: XRT) is up fractionally this morning. [More on the retail sector can be found here.]

For the first time in almost five months, China’s central bank raised a key interest rate. Economists are calling this move a sign that the country is tightening monetary policy and attempting to prevent inflation, says Keith Bradsher for The New York Times. Economists also say that the 0.05% increase to 1.37% may seem minuscule, but it’s a sign of more hikes to come as the economy continues to improve. The increase resulted in China’s markets being the worst performers of the day. The Claymore/AlphaShares China All-Cap (NYSEArca: YAO) is down 1.1% this morning. [Read more stories about China’s economic progress here.]

Gas prices have hit a 15-month high. While it’s not fun for motorists to have to dig a little deeper, it may present an opportunity in United States Gasoline (NYSEArca: UGA). The average cost of a gallon of gas is now a hair below $2.71. A motorist using 50 gallons a month will pay around $135, says the Associated Press. Ouch. However, with the jobless rate still in double digits, it’s not clear how long consumers will be willing to shoulder higher prices. [Read more stories on the energy sector here.]

Tomorrow, look for December’s eagerly-anticipated jobs report. Economists already have some bad news, though: they don’t expect the picture to drastically improve anytime this year, says Chris Isidore at CNN Money. They expect the rate to remain “uncomfortably high” for the near future and we’re in for a long slog to recover the 7.2 million jobs lost since January 2008.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Lydon serves as an independent trustee of certain mutual funds and ETFs that are managed by Guggenheim Investments; however, any opinions or forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Mr. Lydon and not those of Guggenheim Funds, Guggenheim Investments, Guggenheim Specialized Products, LLC or any of their affiliates. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.