The Economy and Earnings in the Week Ahead
August 20, 2012

Week Ahead: Fed-speak – More Stimulus for the Economy!

Earnings – Dell, HPQ, LOW, BBY!

by Ian Harvey

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The Key Events in the Week Ahead

August 20, 2012

Introduction

Investors will be parsing Fed-speak in the week ahead for signs of more stimuli with the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting. Housing data is also due in an otherwise slow week for economic reports.

Also due are earnings reports from technology bellwethers Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which should provide insight into whether two of the world’s largest computer makers are handling changes to the sector that have markedly changed how consumers obtain information.

Other big companies release earnings next week include home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW) and electronics seller Best Buy (BBY).

Earnings in the Week Ahead

Just over a dozen S&P 500 companies report earnings in the week ahead, with the highlight Tuesday as Dell (DELL) and Best Buy (BBY) post their scorecards. Lowe's (LOW) reports on Monday -- Hewlett Packard (HPQ) on Wednesday.

Of the 475 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings this season, 68 percent have beat analyst expectations. That is higher than the long-term average of 62 percent and matches the average over the past four quarters.


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Economy in the Week Ahead

Minutes from the Federal Open Markets Committee, which sets most Fed policy, are due Tuesday and everyone will be looking for hints that the Fed is planning more stimulus to jolt the slumbering U.S. economy.

The Fed disappointed markets last month by not announcing another round of quantitative easing, in which the Fed buys U.S. government securities to provide liquidity to financial markets and promote economic growth.

But most analysts believe the Fed made it abundantly clear that another round of buying is in the works if the economy doesn’t improve markedly by the time the Fed meets again in September.

Not all members of the FOMC agree that more stimuli are needed. The debate between these so-called hawks and the activists led by Fed Chief Ben Bernanke should be on full display with the release of the minutes.

On the housing front, the Mortgage Bankers Association mortgage index is out Wednesday; July existing home sales are also out Wednesday; July new homes sales on Thursday. The housing sector, key to the health of the overall economy, has been in a historic slump for nearly four years.

A glut of housing the result of speculative building and record foreclosures have kept home prices falling in most areas of the U.S. since the housing bubble burst in 2008. That downward momentum has yet to turn around and most economists predict there will be no sustained economic recovery until the housing market hits bottom and starts to move higher.

The health of U.S. manufacturing will be gauged in the week ahead with the release Friday of a report on durable goods orders.


Here is a brief list of some of the key events in the week ahead.

All earnings dates listed below are tentative and subject to change. Please check with each company's respective website for official reporting dates.

Monday

Earnings: Lowe’s, Urban Outfitters

Economic Reports:

• No major reports for the economy on Monday

Tuesday

Earnings: Dell, Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Williams Sonoma, Wet Seal

Economic Reports:

• 8.00 am Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart speaks • 2.15 pm FOMC minutes

Wednesday

Earnings: Hewlett-Packard, Kayak Software, American Eagle Outfitter, Chico’s FAS, Express

Economic Reports:

• 10.00 am Existing home sales • 10.30 pm China flash PMI

Thursday

Earnings: 1-800-Flowers.com, Big Lots, Salesforce.com

Economy:

• 8.30 am Initial claims • 8.58 am Markit U.S. PMI preliminary • 10.00 am New home sales • 10.00 am FHFA HPI

Friday

Earnings: Pandora

Economy:

• 0830 am Durable goods

CLICK HERE for a complete list of companies reporting in the week ahead.

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Other Important Articles Relating to the Week Ahead

1. The Week Ahead in the Stock Market – August 20, 2012

2. The Major ETFs in the Week Ahead – August 20, 2012

3. The Past Week Stock Market Results – August 20, 2012


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