That darn consensus has had a tough time. And the Commerce Department¿s report Wednesday showing that the September trade deficit had widened (rather than shrunk, as expected) to $11.34 billion from $10.30 billion in August didn¿t help.

In non-data economic news, Massachusetts Financial Services, the Boston-based fund family (known as MFS), projected a season of strong Christmas sales. That sentiment goes against the grain of most of the financial media, which has played the nervous nellie at the chimney, waiting for Santa.

Well, enough Yuletide meandering, here¿s Thursday¿s numbers.

Initial Jobless Claims

(8:30 AM EST): This weekly favorite will provide another dose of information with which to gauge the upcoming November employment report coming on December 6. Economists estimate an increase in claims of 5,000, leaving the four-week average just over 330,000.

Philadelphia Fed regional survey

(10:00 AM EST): This regional survey, which includes a crucial prices-paid component and a temperature reading on local manufacturing acitivty, should provide good hints for all those economists unable to figure out what the heck is happening out there. Economists expect to see signs of weakness in the report.

Money Supply

(4:30 PM EST): Ah, Uncle Miltie must be excited for this one. But does anyone else really care?

By Dave Kansas