AIG (AIG - Get Report) will report its fourth quarter results after the closing bell on Thursday. The insurance giant is expected to report an earnings per share of 61 cents on revenues of $13.19 billion. That would be a significant turnaround from the $16 per share loss it posted in the year-ago quarter, making it the biggest fourth-quarter earnings growth driver for S&P 500, along with Apple (AAPL), according to an AP report. Still, analysts appear to see little further upside to the stock, as it continues to be weighed down by volatile earnings, low returns on equity and the prospect of a big sale of stock by the insurers' government overlords. In related news, the New York Federal Reserve is considering auctioning of the remaining $6 billion of AIG's Maiden Lane II portfolio next week, according to press reports. The reserve bank has already conducted two auctions, the first won by Credit Suisse and the second by Goldman Sachs.
Thursday brings jobless claims data as well as the FHFA's House Price Index, which covers single-family housing using data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The European Union is also expected to release its interim economic forecasts. Investors are closely watching for signs that U.S. can de-link from a recession in Europe. While concerns about banks' direct exposure to Greece and other weaker parts of Europe have eased, investors are still worried that the crisis in Europe could push U.S. back into recession which would hurt bank stocks.