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The Week Ahead: Dec. 8 to 12

KEY EVENT: Sales force? The Commerce Department on Thursday releases retail sales for November, a comprehensive look at whether those omnipresent Black Friday weekend sales caused shoppers to open their wallets. The report will not include sales for Cyber Monday, which fell in December.

MONDAY: Earnings from snack-food seller Diamond Foods, H&R Block and Vail Resorts.

TUESDAY: The small-business optimism index for November from the National Federation of Independent Business and wholesale trade for October from the Census Bureau. Earnings: AutoZone.

WEDNESDAY: The U.S. Treasury's budget for November, a monthly accounting of the nation's deficit. Earnings: Ronkonkoma protective garments maker Lakeland Industries, home builder Hovnanian Enterprises, apparel seller Men's Wearhouse, home builder Toll Brothers.

THURSDAY: Two reports from the Labor Department: jobless benefits claims for the week ended Dec. 6 and import and export prices for November. Also, October business inventories from the Commerce Department. Earnings: publishing software maker Adobe Systems, Costco Wholesale.

FRIDAY: The Labor Department reports on November producer prices, a look at whether inflation is heating up in raw materials costs that may ultimately be passed along to consumers. Also, the University of Michigan posts consumer sentiment for early December.

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