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BUSINESS OF DESIGN WEEK

Dec. 10-15 - The design industry meets in Hong Kong. The conference will focus on Italy, with speeches by several prominent figures in Italian design, including architect Mario Bellini.

H&R BLOCK

Dec. 10, 4 p.m. EST - The tax preparer's (HRB) fiscal second-quarter results will reflect a $34 million charge due to the closure of its subprime mortgage lending unit Option One.

KROGER

Dec. 11, 8:30 a.m. EST - The country's largest traditional supermarket chain (KR) releases third-quarter results after upping its guidance for the fiscal year. Grocers should fare well if the economy slows down because consumers are less likely to dine out.

FED MAY CUT AGAIN

Dec. 11, 2:15 p.m. EST - The central bank discusses monetary policy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other Fed officials have expressed fresh concerns about the economy, lifting expectations on Wall Street of a rate cut. The hot topic now is how much the central bank will cut rates, currently at 4.5%.

ECONOMIC GROWTH IN LATIN AMERICA

Dec. 12, 6 a.m. EST - Brazil's third-quarter real gross domestic product figures are forecast to be solid. Argentina and Mexico are also expected to report good third-quarter results. However, Mexico should start to lag its regional neighbors due to its tight economic link to the U.S.

CLUB MED

Dec. 13 - Europe's biggest resort operator releases results for financial year 2007. Revenue growth is sluggish as it renovates its vacation resorts in an effort to attract more affluent customers.

LEHMAN BROTHERS

Dec. 13, 8 a.m. EST - Investors want to see if fourth-quarter results (LEH) duplicate the third quarter and top analyst estimates. Another point of interest: whether it takes additional writedowns or charges after posting a $700 million charge on mortgages and other debt last quarter.

U.S. RETAIL SALES

Dec. 13, 8:30 a.m. EST - November sales are expected to be soft, even with a decent start to the holiday shopping season. The report is a key gauge in determining the likelihood of a U.S. economic recession.

COSTCO WHOLESALE

Dec. 13, 11 a.m. EST - The membership warehouse retailer's (COST) fiscal first-quarter results could get a boost from the better-than-expected 9% yearly jump in October same-store sales. Its November sales data come out Dec. 6.

JAPANESE BUSINESS CONDITIONS

Dec. 13, 6:50 p.m. EST - Economists will peruse the Bank of Japan's fourth-quarter Tankan corporate survey to see how the economy is holding up in the face of a weaker U.S. economy and a tumultuous global market.

U.S. FACTORY OUTPUT

Dec. 14, 9:15 a.m. EST - In another sign of a rapidly slowing U.S. economy, November industrial production is expected barely to rise following a drop in October.


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