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December 13, 2012  Thu 1:16 AM CT

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Today's economic calendar focuses on weekly jobless claims and monthly retail sales.

Both will be released before the market opens at 8:30 a.m. ET. Unemployment filings are expected to increase to 375,000 from last week's 370,000. A lower number would be bullish because it would indicate that fewer workers lost their jobs, while a higher reading could be bearish.

Retail sales, published by the Commerce Department, are forecast to grow by 0.5 percent compared with a contraction of 0.3 percent in October. Excluding automobiles, economists anticipate little change.

The Commerce Department follows with October business inventories at 10 a.m. ET, but that data is unlikely to affect sentiment.

Natural-gas inventories will be reported by the Energy Department at 10:30 a.m ET., which could move some energy stocks.

There are also some potentially important earnings reports coming before the bell from homebuilder Hovnanian and telecom-equipment maker Ciena. Adobe and VeriFone release quarterly results in the afternoon.

In addition to the events in the United States, China's HSBC flash PMI manufacturing index will be released in the evening after the close. The data could affect sentiment tomorrow morning, especially toward commodities.
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