The day ahead: Thursday


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.


*  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: Friday


Existing home sales data and a speech from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold the spotlight on Friday.

    Sales of existing homes probably rose to their highest level in 10 months in July, according to a Reuters poll, as buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax credit for first-time homeowners. Policy-makers from around the world are in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s yearly conference. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke takes the podium at 10:00 a.m. EDT to share his thoughts on how sustainable the recent economic recovery is. GM’s board of directors is expected to address the sale of Opel and aims to recommend one of two competing bids for the German unit.

The day ahead: Thursday


Investors’ attention will turn to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as policy-makers from around the world gather to talk about how to prevent another global financial crisis. Results from Gap and Sears are also expected.

    The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s yearly conference at a mountain retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, draws central bankers and top economists together as the current crisis appears to be easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks on Friday. Gap’s results will show whether its focus on boosting margins, even as a widespread slump in consumer spending has cut into sales, has been successful. Eddie Lampert’s efforts to break Sears into five segments and taking his scattered approach to finding a format for growth will be on display when the retailer reports quarterly financials. August business activity and weekly employment data should reinforce investor expectations that the economy is on the mend.