By John Kell
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set a procedural vote Monday on the tax-cut deal struck by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, and the bill could clear the Senate as early as Tuesday, according to Senate aides. The bill would then need to be approved by the House, where Democrats have urged their leaders to block action on it unless changes are made to remove tax benefits for the wealthy.
- The Department of Commerce’s retail-sales report for November is expected to show growth of 0.8%, and 0.6% excluding motor vehicles and parts, according to Briefing.com. The results come after strong October growth, as consumers become more confident about the economic climate, although high unemployment remains a concern.
- Housing starts and building permits data for November are due out Thursday, with both metrics expected to report an increase from October’s disappointing showing. Still, housing starts are at extremely low levels and the outlook is still murky amid high levels of unsold new homes.
- Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index, a measure of the price level of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by consumers, is again projected to inch up in November, in what would be the fifth consecutive monthly increase.
- Best Buy, FedEx, General Mills Inc. and Research in Motion are among the companies set to report their latest quarterly results next week. All four companies are expected to report revenue and profit growth from a year ago, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
- Wall Street expects BlackBerry maker RIM, which is set to report Thursday, to post the most impressive growth. The company issued strong guidance for the fiscal third quarter in November, on top of stout second-quarter results, easing fears the company is buckling under intense competition from Apple Inc.’s iPhone and smartphones that run on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.
- Oracle will announce its fiscal second-quarter results Thursday, in the first financial results since the business-software company won a record judgment against SAP. In November, a federal jury said Oracle’s archrival must pay Oracle $1.3 billion in damages for copyright infringement. Meanwhile, Oracle’s latest-quarter performance will likely to have been boosted by continued strength in software and an updated line of hardware products from its January acquisition of Sun Microsystems.
- The Irish opposition party Fine Gael said it will discuss its position on the country’s EUR67.5 billion aid package at a meeting of senior party figures next week. Ireland’s parliament will vote on it Wednesday, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Thursday. He said the package negotiated by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union is in the nation’s best interest.
- Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, Thursday called for European governments to agree to a limited change to the European Union treaty next week that will allow the creation of a permanent mechanism to bail out troubled EU economies. He said he believed European leaders would do “whatever it takes” to ensure the financial stability of the euro region.
- The council of cash-strapped Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is expected to vote on the city’s $57 million 2011 budget next week. Mayor Linda Thompson last month presented a budget that kept property taxes flat and is lower than the $65 million spending plan enacted for this year. Harrisburg earlier this week disclosed officials mistakenly failed to fully budget its general obligation debt for 2011 and currently don’t have enough to make the next payments due in March.
- Following the Italian Parliament’s approval of EUR25 billion in budget cuts the next two years, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces a confidence vote in Parliament Tuesday that could bring down his government and pave the way for early elections in the spring. This week’s approval of Italy’s two-year spending budget comes at a pivotal moment, placing Italy’s fiscal house in order as lawmakers brace for political turbulence in the weeks ahead.
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