FRIDAY'S BIG STORY:
Beijing bound: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will wrap up a weeklong trip to the Asia-Pacific on Friday with a stop in Beijing, where the topic is likely to focus on China's economy and undervalued currency.
He will meet with senior government officials to press them on following through on making structural reforms to the Chinese economy as well as raising the value of the yuan.
The TPP is "the cornerstone of our shared growth agenda" and it is envisioned as a "living agreement" that other Asia-Pacific economies can eventually join, he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday.
His aim in China will be to discuss a shift from a heavy government role in the economy and influencing the exchange rate to become a more market-based approach where domestic demand would drive growth.
Lew is expected to ask for a more detailed report from top Chinese officials about the results of their third plenum after they released what has been deemed a vague statement with little policy direction.
"The communique coming out of the plenum is at a very general level," Lew told CNBC Asia.
"It doesn't spell out all the policies. So in the coming discussions, I hope to learn more about some of the specific polices."
The Treasury Department said last month that China's currency is still significantly undervalued despite gradual increases over the past several years.
"China needs to move more quickly to a market-determined exchange rate and more open access to its markets," he wrote on Monday.
U.S. businesses argue that currency manipulation gives China and other nations a global trade advantage, making their goods cheaper in the United States and around the world.
Lew has said the exchange rate policy is top priority for the Obama administration.
The pervasive problem also is causing considerable ire on Capitol Hill — enough that many lawmakers are saying they won't consider the White House's ambitious trade agenda without the inclusion of enforceable currency manipulation provisions.
Lew also will allay fears about the trajectory of the U.S. economy.
The 16-day government shutdown last month unnerved global financial markets and major economies such as China and Japan, which are the largest holders of U.S. debt.
"We went through a period of some political turmoil, but I have to be clear it was a political, not economic, crisis," Lew told CNBC.
Strengthening workers' rights: Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced legislation on Thursday that would aim to significantly overhaul labor laws to improve workers' right for the first time in more than 50 years. The Employee Rights Act would give workers the freedom to choose to join a union or not and be free from intimidation or retribution for their choice.
It also would mandate a secret ballot in elections on whether to form a union, require unions to be periodically recertified via a secret-ballot vote, prevent "quickie" elections and prevent employees’ dues and fees from being used for political activities without their consent.
The measure has 22 co-sponsors.
"This isn’t a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is a matter of fairness and basic worker rights," Hatch said.
In addition to Hatch and Alexander, the bill is supported by Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has introduced companion legislation in the House.
Industrial production-capacity utilization: The Federal Reserve will release its October report showing the physical output of the nation's factories, mines and utilities. The monthly report also provides a measure of capacity utilization.
Wholesale trade: The Commerce Department will release its September wholesale trade report that includes sales and inventory statistics from the second stage of the manufacturing process. The sales figures don't provide any insight into personal consumption and have little effect on the market.
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— Trade deficit expanded in September
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