From Reuters.com

The day ahead: Thursday

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When U.S. retail chains report November sales, investors will learn whether they have gone far enough to protect profits against a weak start to the holiday shopping season.

Highlights:

*  President Barack Obama holds a forum on job creation with U.S. business leaders to devise ways to combat double-digit unemployment.

*  Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke vowed before taking office to follow in the footsteps of his storied predecessor, Alan Greenspan, but he will likely distance himself from the past when he testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in a bid to win confirmation to a fresh four-year stint at the helm of the U.S. central bank.

*  At the Reuters Media Summit, being held in  New York and London, we hear from Google President Global Sales Operations and Business Development Nikesh Arora and Take-Two Interactive Chairman Strauss Zelnick.

The day ahead: Wednesday

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Indications of what markets might expect from Friday’s non-farm payrolls report could emerge from the ADP National Employment private sector survey and the November Challenger Layoff report.

Other highlights:

*  The lead committee on financial regulatory reform in the House of Representatives is expected to approve the last two of eight major regulatory bills.

The day ahead: Tuesday

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Major automakers are expected to report flat U.S. auto sales for November from a year ago — another sign the industry is on the mend after a bruising downturn that forced extensive restructuring earlier this year. Read preview here.

Other highlights:

*  The U.S. manufacturing sector is expected to have grown in November, but at a slower pace than October, underscoring the fragility of the economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index reading is estimated at 55.0 in November. Read preview here.

The day ahead: Wednesday

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October orders for durable goods are expected to show a modest rise of 0.5 percent. If the forecast is correct, it would be the third rise in four months and show that demand was picking up for big-ticket items.

Other Highlights:

*  It’s a big day for economic data with personal spending and income, consumer sentiment, new home sales and the weekly jobless claims on tap.

The day ahead: Tuesday

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The economy’s health and minutes from the last FOMC meeting will take center stage, with a spate of earnings also on the docket.

When the government announces revised third quarter GDP figures at 8:30 am EST, analysts expect weaker numbers than previously reported as companies slashed inventories. The initial reading came in at 3.5 percent but economists in a Reuters poll now see a softer 2.9 percent.

The day ahead: Friday

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D.R. Horton, the second-largest U.S. homebuilder, reports its fourth quarter and fiscal year results. Investors will listen for any comments on the builder’s order trends and commentary as they try to discern whether the nascent housing market recovery will buoy the new home sector.

Other Highlights:

*  Nortel assets hit the auction block. Nokia Siemens Networks and private equity firm One Equity Partners have jointly bid for Nortel Networks Corp’s optical networking and carrier ethernet business, a person familiar with the sale said on Wednesday.

The day ahead: Thursday

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Dell reports quarterly results for the first time as the No. 3 maker of personal computers — unfamiliar territory for a company that not so long ago was the world’s largest PC maker.

Other Highlights:

*  In what promises to be a fiery debate, the Senate Banking Committee begins discussion on Committee Chair Christopher Dodd’s Restoring American Financial Stability Act, a comprehensive bill to reform the financial system.

The day ahead: Wednesday

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Consumer prices are forecast to have risen 0.2 percent in October, unchanged from the mild rise seen in September. Housing starts are expected to edge higher.

Other Highlights:

*  Limited Brands, operator of the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works chains, is set to post a third-quarter loss, having struggled with sales of what are seen as non-necessities.

Graphic: Iran’s nuclear program

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- Click here to view more stories on Iran.

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