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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 11-21-2014 09:00 AM

Friday Five: A $100 Billion Week of M&A

Our take on this week's deals. Plus, the Fed sticks to its course, and home-improvement retail results paint hopeful signs for housing.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar and welcome to The Friday Five, Morningstar's take on five stories from the market this week.

Joining me with The Friday Five is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome Jason.

Stipp: First this week, we got Fed minutes, and it didn't really surprise anyone, including the market.

Glaser: Not particularly. The market pretty much yawned when these minutes were released, and they showed what we were expecting. The Fed is worried about global growth and what impact it could have on the United States, but they're very split as to exactly how big that impact is going to be.

Obviously they noted what's happening in Europe, what's happening in China, what's happening in Japan. But they are seeing pretty good strength in United States, and that gave them the confidence to end the quantitative easing program and also to set the stage for that rate increase sometime in the middle of 2015.

It seems like the market is still very much pricing in that outcome; that's what people are expecting right now. We'll see what will happen if it comes a little bit sooner, or if it comes a little bit later. We didn't really get a whole lot of new information from these minutes.

Stipp: Global growth is a concern, and that heightened this week, as Japan fell into recession. What were the drivers behind that?

Glaser: This really was a surprise. Japan did have a big contraction two quarters ago, when they increased their consumption tax. The expectations were that there would be some bounce-back this quarter, even if growth wasn't going to look great. In fact the [Japanese] economy contracted again. That second straight quarter leads into what many people consider a recession.

This is just another sign of how fragile global growth is and how fragile Japan's recovery has been. Now of course Japan has a lot of idiosyncratic things going on. They have some demographics issues; they have a huge debt load. You have the government trying to tighten up a little bit and trying to pay down some of that debt, while the Bank of Japan has been very expansionary. So you don't want to over-generalize that what's happening in Japan could mean a recession everywhere, but it certainly is a sign that the global economy is pretty weak. It's going to have some political ramifications in Japan as well. Snap elections have been called for December, and it looks like the next sales tax increase is going to be postponed. So we'll see if that makes a difference.

Stipp: In corporate earnings news, both Home Depot and Lowe's reported; they had better-than-expected quarters. Their results also had some hints about the broader economy.

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