Wal-Mart's U.S. sales miss mark as shoppers visit less

 Reuters: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Thursday reported its third straight quarterly decline in U.S. comparable sales, hurt by a drop in shopper visits, and the world's largest retailer gave a disappointing profit forecast for the holiday season."

More Americans than predicted filed for unemployment last week

Bloomberg: "More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the labor market is making progress in fits and starts. "Until we get beyond these political and fiscal uncertainties, we're likely to see this stop-and-start that we've had in the labor market," said Millan Mulraine, director of U.S. rates research at TD Securities USA LLC in New York."  

Yellen to defend Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy

Reuters: "Janet Yellen, nominated to lead the U.S. Federal Reserve, will offer a stout defense on Thursday of the central bank's aggressive monetary easing. At today's hearing on her nomination, Yellen is likely to remain vague on future Fed actions, according to her prepared remarks, but she will look to head off calls for the Fed to back away from its muscular efforts to spur stronger economic growth and lower unemployment."