NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors are eager for a touch of Christmas cheer from the U.S. Federal Reserve next week, hoping for signs the central bank may ease up on interest rate hikes next year and spark a Santa Claus rally.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange September 19, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

U.S. stocks are having their worst December performance in 16 years with the S&P 500

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