Three things to know today:
GOP primary shakeup
Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning is expected to announce Friday that the state will move its GOP primary date to the end of January, which will probably cause a chain reaction of scheduling changes by the four states that typically open the nomination process. According to state officials, the Florida commission set up to examine potential election dates is expected to move Florida's primary to January 31, moving the state’s primary to the No. 1 slot, at least temporarily, on the Republican Party’s primary schedule.
The move would be the second consecutive presidential election that Florida has moved its primary date in front of its traditional March spot. In the 2008 race, the state chose to hold its primary on January 29, and the Republican National Committee responded by docking Florida of half of its delegates. The RNC wants only four states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – to hold their primaries or caucuses before Super Tuesday, and says that any state that chooses to move in front of those four will lose some of its delegates.
Florida’s primary shuffle has once again caused a stir among GOP leaders in the first four “carve-out” states, with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner telling the Portsmouth Herald that he will do “whatever it takes” to ensure that the state remains at the front of the process to protect “the little guy." Nevada officials have responded similarly, saying that they might move the state’s caucuses up as early as January 21.
Any state that chooses to respond to Florida’s last-minute move will have to act quickly; the RNC deadline to submit primary dates is Saturday.
Stocks tumble early
News coming out of Europe could make Friday a difficult day for stocks in the United States.
The latest reading on European inflation sparked a sell-off in overseas stocks Friday, and that was spilling over into U.S. markets, with Dow and Nasdaq futures down. Shortly after U.S. markets opened at 9:30 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 110 points, and the Nasdaq fell 1.5%.
Consumer prices in the 17 eurozone nations rose 3% in September – faster than the 2.5% rate in August. That could lay the foundation for the European Central Bank to raise rates when it meets next week.
It's been a volatile quarter, with fear about Europe's debt crisis and an economic slowdown weighing on investors. As of Thursday's close, the Dow and Nasdaq are down 10% for the quarter, while the S&P 500 is down 12%.
Baseball playoffs begin
After stunning collapses that left the Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox out of Major League Baseball's playoffs, the beneficiaries of one of those late-season crashes will be opening the postseason Friday.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the Red Sox to win the American League wild card spot on the last day of the season Wednesday, will visit the Texas Rangers for Game 1 of their series, starting shortly after 5 p.m. ET. Later Friday, the Detroit Tigers face the New York Yankees in New York.
The National League playoff teams – Arizona at Milwaukee, and St. Louis at Philadelphia – begin their playoff series Saturday.