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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 02-28-2013 11:00 AM

The Friday Five

Five stats from the market and the stories behind them. This week: the $85 billion sequester, two divergent same-store sales stories, and more.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to The Friday Five: five stats from the market and the stories behind them.

Joining me as always with the numbers is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome, Jason.

Stipp: So what do you have for The Friday Five this week?

Glaser: Well, the five numbers we're going to look at are 3, $85 billion, minus 32%, plus 7% and 50.

Stipp: 3 is the number of political parties that seem to rise through the mist of the election going on over there [in Italy]. What's the deal with those three parties? It caused some consternation in the market [this week]?

Glaser: The Italian election really was a bit of a mess. Before going into the election, there was some thought that the center-left coalition was going to be able to win outright--they were going to form a stable government, be able to continue on some of the reforms that Mario Monti had been working on. And that just didn't happen.

Three parties got over 20% of the vote: that center-left coalition, Berlusconi's center-right coalition, and also a protest party that's run by an Italian comedian got a surprisingly large share of the vote. And these parties do not want to form coalitions with each other, and that means that we're probably going to have another election.

This just adds more uncertainty to the Italian situation. Italy's big problem is getting back to long-term growth. They don't have the kind of budget deficits that some of the other European countries have right now that need to be dealt with immediately, but they do need to make some of those structural reforms in order to get that growth before they run into some of those deficit problems that could be a major issue for them.

Without a strong Italy, the eurozone crisis becomes incredibly difficult to solve. Italy is a much more important economy than, say, Greece or Spain. This is why the market, I think, was so upset about these election results, and we're going to have to go through this probably all over again in just a few months from now.

Stipp: Here at home, $85 billion is the size of the "sequester" that's going to go into effect if Congress doesn't take some action very soon here. What's your take on that number? The market doesn't seem as concerned about that right now as it did about the Italy situation.

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