Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Thanksgiving week is upon us here in the U.S. While things will slow down stateside come Wednesday afternoon, there’s still a lot going on worldwide. Also, retailers will be watching carefully to see how many shoppers come out this Friday as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.
Here’s what you need to know for your week ahead.
1. How’s the U.S. economy doing?
Revised gross domestic product numbers comes out Tuesday morning. The initial reading indicated that the national economy grew at 3.5% in the third quarter, but economists are expecting that number to be revised downward Tuesday.
In other economic news, consumer confidence in November may have hit a seven-year high due to strong job growth and low gas prices, economists anticipate. The Conference Board releases the index on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. ET.
Reports due this week will also show how the U.S. housing market faired last month when new home sales for October are released Wednesday morning.
2. Hewlett-Packard turnaround progress.
HP (HPQ) will release its third quarter earnings Tuesday after the market closes. CEO Meg Whitman has been working to simplify HP’s businesses and deliver ongoing growth. Investors will be listening carefully for more details on the planned separation of its PC and printer units from its software and enterprise business, announced earlier this fall. Whitman told analysts that the two tech companies would strive to be “two big Fortune 50 companies.”
Analysts estimate HP will post earnings-per-share, excluding one-time items, of $1.06 on sales of $28.76 billion, a potentially 1.3% year-over-year decline.
3. Ukraine still in crisis.
A shaky ceasefire is in effect in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels, but the prospects for peace are still “bleak,” according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The effects could pull Russia into a recession and Eastern Europe is still struggling to post economic growth.
The International Monetary Fund is set to finish its review of Ukraine’s economy Tuesday and determine how best to distribute the country’s $17 billion aid package. The country’s parliament is also set to meet Thursday for its first session since last month’s elections brought in a new pro-European prime minister.
4. OPEC meets in Vienna.
Oil ministers from 12-member states that constitute the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meet in Vienna Thursday. The group will decide if and how it may change production. Many traders have increased bets that the group will cut production, given the steep drop in oil prices recently — oil prices have sunk about 30% since mid-June. A reduction in OPEC supply could help boost prices. Price volatility could continue through this week until the final policy is announced. A press conference led by OPEC Secretary General Abdalla El-Badri will follow the meeting at 4 p.m. ET.
5. Let the shopping commence!
Thanksgiving brings with it retail’s most important holiday, Black Friday. U.S. shoppers typically spend more than $50 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend, and competition has become stiff as retailers battle for attention.
Store such as Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) are offering deeper and longer discounts to lure shoppers even beyond the one day, including beefing up mobile apps. It’s an all-out battle to get consumers in the door and buying items, especially given predictions that fewer Americans are expected to scoop up the weekend deals this year, according to data compiled by the National Retail Federation.
“We could witness a sea change this holiday season as consumers’ reliance on extremely deep discounts over the biggest shopping weekend of the year shifts to more of a ‘wait-and-see’ mentality around what retailers will be offering on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.