U.S. HOUSING

Dec. 26, 9 a.m. EST - The October S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices will offer a fresh take on the housing bust. Prices probably fell again after a 4.9% yearly drop in September. Also, new-home sales for November are issued on Dec. 28, followed by existing-home sales on Dec. 31.

FUKUDA VISITS CHINA

Dec. 27 - Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda begins his first visit to China as premier. Among the topics likely to be discussed with Chinese President Hu Jintao: a dispute over natural-gas fields in the East China Sea.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Dec. 27 - Munich Re is expected to report that the economic cost of natural catastrophes in 2007 will come in between 2006's $45 billion and the record $210 billion of 2005. The reinsurance company's yearly report will say that while 2007 had no mega-disasters, there were a significant number of destructive events—some related to global warming.

JAPANESE MANUFACTURING

Dec. 27, 6:50 p.m. EST - Analysts will look at the November industrial-output data for evidence of slower economic growth. A lot of attention will be paid to the report's production forecast for December and January.

U.S. BUSINESS ACTIVITY

Jan. 2, 10 a.m. EST - The Institute for Supply Management's December factory and nonmanufacturing report, due Jan. 4, should confirm slower economic growth. But new-orders data show that vibrant foreign demand is partly offsetting weaker activity at home.

MONSANTO

Jan. 3, 9:30 a.m. EST - The seed-and-chemical maker announces fiscal first-quarter results. After a stellar 2007, Monsanto (MON) has already said this year's earnings may miss analyst expectations due to lower-than-expected sales of genetically modified seeds.

FINISH LINE

Jan. 3, 4 p.m. EST - The athletic-gear retailer is expected to post its third straight quarterly loss in fiscal third-quarter figures. The company is racing to adjust its mix of footwear as sales of high-end athletic shoes slacken.

BED BATH & BEYOND

Jan. 3, 5 p.m. EST - The home-goods retailer posts fiscal third-quarter results. While second-quarter earnings topped analyst ESTimates, shares are near a five-year low on narrower profit margins and concerns that the housing down-turn will soon slam sales.

EURO ZONE INFLATION

Jan. 4, 5 a.m. EST - Initial consumer-price numbers for December are released. November's were up 3.1% from a year ago—above the European Central Bank's 2% target ceiling. Stubborn price pressures mean the ECB won't cut interest rates anytime soon.

U.S. EMPLOYMENT

Jan. 4, 8:30 a.m. EST - Payrolls probably expanded at a modest pace in December. Decelerating economic growth and turmoil in the credit markets threaten to further restrain hiring and other business spending.

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