Hello friends, and Fortune readers.
Friday kicks off with a host of Eurozone data — with some surprising results — and the latest numbers on U.S. retail sales. The stock market is looking at a fourth week of gains and its best four-week period since December 2011. Here’s what else you need to know for the day ahead.
1. The Eurozone actually grew in the third quarter.
Eurostat announced the 18-country currency bloc’s growth Friday morning, which was up 0.2% for the quarter. That makes its one-year growth 0.8%. That’s still shy of the U.S. annual rate of 2.3%, but it’s not the recession that many had feared. France and Germany deserve much of the credit. They accounted for about half of the group’s output. The only contraction was seen in Italy.
2. Virgin America cleared for takeoff.
The low-cost airline owned by Billionaire Richard Branson will start trading today after raising about $307 million, pricing its initial public offering at $23 a share Thursday night, the middle of its expected range. Virgin America is consistently rated as one of the top domestic airlines, according to public opinion polls, though it only managed to eke out an annual profit for the first time last year.
3. The Keystone XL takes center stage in Washington.
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill to finally approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect the oil sands of Canada with refineries on the Gulf Coast. If passed, the bill would move on for a Senate vote next week, though it’s unclear if President Obama will grant his signature if it reaches him.
4. Are Americans out shopping again?
Retail sales increased 0.3% in October, surpassing economists estimates of 0.2% gain. The results, which were released Friday morning, point to a more optimistic outlook from shoppers that will hopefully continue into the holiday season. Consumer spending has lagged this year even as the economy and employment have steadily improved, and many economist worried this could hold back growth in the coming months. October sales numbers matched the 0.3% gain in September.
5. The NBA commissioner says sports betting should be legalized.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver penned an op-ed in the New York Times that argues in favor of the legalization and regulation of pro-sports gambling. An estimated $400 billion per year is waged on games, and Silver believes this should be controlled. Other countries —such as the U.K. and Ireland — have already legalized and regulated the practice. “I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground,” he says, “and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”