Skip to Content

Retail outlook and China’s economy—5 things to watch for this week

Virgin Atlantic Begins Dreamliner Service To Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson AirportVirgin Atlantic Begins Dreamliner Service To Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport
Richard Branson, chairman and founder of Virgin Group Ltd.Photograph by Michael A. Schwarz — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Twenty-five years ago today, the Berlin Wall came down, finally uniting the divided city for the first time since 1961. When the Wall fell at midnight on Nov. 9, it lost both its symbolic and physical power. Time magazine, in its cover story that week, called it “a combination of the fall of the Bastille and a New Year’s Eve blowout.” The story goes on to recount the emotions and spirit of that day:

West Berliners pulled East Berliners to the top of the barrier along which in years past many an East German had been shot while trying to escape; at times the Wall almost disappeared beneath waves of humanity. They tooted trumpets and danced on the top. They brought out hammers and chisels and whacked away at the hated symbol of imprisonment, knocking loose chunks of concrete and waving them triumphantly before television cameras.

Here’s what else you need to know to start your week.

1. A week of retail updates.

Earnings season continues as a host of major retailers report quarterly earnings ahead of the important holiday shopping season.

J.C. Penney (JCP) and Macy’s (M) lead on Wednesday, followed by Wal-Mart (WMT) and Nordstrom (JWN) on Thursday. Nordstrom is expected to have the biggest year-over-year revenue gain, with earnings-per-share of 72 cents on sales of $3.1 billion. Wal-Mart, which has had six-straight quarters without a boost in same-store sales in the U.S., is expected to post earnings-per-share of $1.13 on sales of $118.5 billion.

The week wraps up with October’s U.S. retail sales, which are supposed to be up 0.2%.

2. U.S. Senate convenes to discuss Ebola.

A U.S. Senate hearing kicks off Wednesday afternoon. Senator Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, will field questions on the nation’s response to the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Over 13,000 people have been infected, and more than 4,800 have died worldwide.

President Obama is seeking $6 billion from Congress to help fight Ebola in West Africa and to protect Americans from its spread in the states. Scheduled witnesses include Thomas Frieden, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

3. The ongoing U.S. labor market recovery.

Following a strong jobs report on Friday, economists and policy makers alike will be watching Thursday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. The survey looks at the number of unfilled jobs in the U.S., an important measure of the unmet demand for workers. When matched with the unemployment rate, which measures the excess supply of labor, it provides a 360-degree view of the current labor market. Economists are expecting 4.78 million job openings in September, down 6% from the month prior.

4. How is China doing?

This week is a big one for the Asian economic powerhouse. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry arrive in Beijing on Monday to attend the APEC summit and meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The three-day summit officially kicks off Sunday, and other international leaders, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will be in attendance.

While the summit is in session, China will release its October inflation measure Monday. It is expected to be unchanged, indicating that the central bank’s monetary easing has yet to filter through to prices in the broader economy. The nation’s inflation rate in September was the slowest since January 2010, adding to worries that demand in the world’s second-largest economy continues to be muted.

5. Virgin America is flying into the public markets.

Virgin America, the airline owned by billionaire Richard Branson, will go public for the first time on Friday. The seven-year-old airline will raise as much as $320 million in its initial public offering, which would value to company at nearly $1 billion. Shares will trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol “VA.” The debut comes just weeks after the fatal crash of a Virgin Galactic aircraft. Virgin Galactic and Virgin American are both owned by the same parent company, Branson’s Virgin Group.