ECONOMIC REPORTS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

SHOPPING SEASON

Thanksgiving week marks one of the biggest and busiest weeks of the year for retailers. More than 139 million people shopped from Thursday through Sunday of Thanksgiving week last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Traditionally, the holiday shopping season kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but this year many retailers will be open and offering deals on Thanksgiving Day, including Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Toys R Us.

AIRLINE BANKRUPTCY

A federal bankruptcy judge is scheduled to rule Monday on when American Airlines can exit from bankruptcy, after examining the recent settlement reached between the Department of Justice and American Airlines and US Airways over their planned merger. Judge Sean H. Lane, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, must decide whether the settlement was a big enough change to the plan of reorganization to warrant a new vote by the airline’s creditors and shareholders. If the judge confirms the plan, the ruling would pave the way for the carrier’s emergence from bankruptcy within a few weeks.

HP EARNINGS

Hewlett-Packard is expected to deliver earnings below last year’s levels, as the company’s chief executive, Meg Whitman, completes what she has called a turnaround year. Growth is expected in 2014, as the onetime leader in personal computers copes with an onslaught of smartphones, tablets, and competition from Lenovo and Dell. Analysts will be looking for clues about HP’s success in bringing to market new styles of laptops, and inroads it is able to make in advanced computer systems integration. It won’t show up in this report, but HP got a lift on the computing infrastructure front when it announced a deal with Salesforce.com, a leader in cloud computing.

EURO INFLATION

On Friday, the European Union statistics agency will publish the latest inflation figures for the eurozone. After inflation in October fell more than expected to an annual rate of 0.7 percent, a further fall in November could heighten fears that the eurozone is at risk of deflation, a pernicious downward spiral of prices. A further drop would also put pressure on the European Central Bank to do more to stimulate growth, perhaps even by breaking a taboo on central bank asset purchases. Eurozone unemployment figures will also be released Friday, and are expected to show joblessness stuck at 12.2 percent.

HEALTH CARE WEBSITE

The Obama administration had set Sunday as the deadline for fixing the myriad problems with the federal health insurance website, but in recent days officials have gradually tried to lower expectations about how well the site would work. In testimony last week the chief digital architect for the federal exchange said 30 to 40 percent of the project was still being built.

The official, Henry Chao, made the assessment before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Lawmakers expressed surprise that so much work remained to be done seven weeks after the federal website opened to the public. Chao, the deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the government was still working on “back office systems,” including those needed to pay insurance companies that are supposed to provide coverage to millions of people under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Chao said the government had largely completed computer systems that were most important to consumers and allowed them to apply for insurance, compare health plans and enroll. However, White House officials said that even these parts of the system were still being repaired and were not performing as well as they had hoped.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, also was playing down the federal government’s self-imposed deadline. “The 30th of November is not a magic go, no-go date,” Sebelius told The Associated Press.