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The death of Sears continues, albeit at a slow pace. A judge in New York on Thursday approved Sears' global bid procedures motion, which requires the retailer to name a stalking horse by Dec. 15. The approval keeps Sears on track with its efforts to emerge from bankruptcy with some stores open. Sears can move forward with its efforts to sell a group of stores as a going concern, so long as it emphasizes to potential liquidators that they also ought to "put their best foot forward" in submitting bids. The judge, however, also emphasized that a potential for a liquidation sale should be considered alongside going concern bids, quelling concerns from the official committee of unsecured creditors that if a going concern sale wasn't successful, there would be additional delay in pivoting to a liquidation. The decision comes after Sears on Wednesday unveiled $350 million lifeline (DIP loan) from Great American Capital Partners. The funding will help keep the retailer open through the holidays, though its future after the new year, remains unknown.

It's not just retailers that will be battling this holiday season. The battle between Google (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Inc. Report is expected to heat up as the holiday season draws nearer, especially in the home speaker market. As TheStreet's Annie Gaus reports "A year ago, Amazon's Echo was the undisputed leader in the fast-growing smart speaker category." But today, "Alphabet's Google Home products have been gradually chipping away at Amazon's lead in the smart speaker category," Gaus writes. A lot has changed, however, and this year's holiday season will be telling when it comes to who will hold dominance in the space. Check out Annie's story below, as well as the the latest episode of our Technically Speaking podcast, to find out who holds the best odds of coming out of the smart speaker wars on top.

Markets today: Stocks ended higher on Thursday, Nov. 15, shrugging off mixed earnings from retail giant Walmart WMT and as tech shares and banks rebounded. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 209 points, or 0.8%, to 25,289, the S&P 500 rose 1%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 1.7% after falling earlier in Thursday's session.

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