Consumers, Retailers to Take Spotlight in Week Ahead
Consumers and retailers will once again come into focus in the week ahead.
H&R Block, a financial services company that has a substantial consumer finance unit, is set to report earnings. Analysts are expecting the Missouri-based company to report a 40 cent per-share loss for its fiscal second quarter.
Two private surveys of retail activity, the ICSC/Goldman Sachs Chain Store Sales index and Johnson Redbook will both be released Tuesday. Markets will also get earning from food retailer Kroger and auto retailers AutoZone and Pep Boys. All three companies are expected to report fourth quarter profits. Consumer confidence will take the spotlight late in the day, with the release of the ABC/Washington Post Consumer Confidence Index.
Wednesday will be quiet from an earning front, with only eight major companies reporting earnings. However, traders will get information on mortgage demand, which could be an early indicator the condition of the housing market. The weekly oil inventories report by the Department of Energy could be significant next week with oil having plunged 25% to four year lows this week.
Weekly jobless claims will come to the forefront Thursday morning on the heels of a grim and far worse than expected, unemployment report for October. Claims receded slightly this week, but remain elevated compared to historical norms. Trade balance will also be out in the morning and is expected to show the trade deficit moderating somewhat, mostly due to falling energy prices.
Subscription-based retailer Costco will be reporting earnings, which are expected to be higher for the fourth quarter. Natural gas inventories, which shook oil and other energy markets this week, are set to be released in the late morning.
Finally, the Fed is expected to issue a report on the status of the money supply, and bank lending, through the discount window, late in the day.
The week will close with the widely followed Reuters/University of Michigan Survey on consumer confidence that already at historically low levels and is expected to decline further. Traders will also get a glimpse of wholesale inflation with the release of the Producer Price Index, which is expected to increase excluding food and energy which are expected to have decreased. The Commerce Department is also expected to release data on retail and food sales.
And let's not forget that the vote on the "Big Three Bailout" will likely be taking place next week as well. Does anyone honestly believe Congress will turn them down?