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Market Preview: All About Ben

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Thursday was ugly for equity investors but at least the wait is almost over.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to speak in Jackson Hole, Wyo. on Friday, and the expectations for him to telegraph the central bank's willingness to launch another huge asset purchase program have come way down of late.

The general consensus is Bernanke will use his time in the shadow of the Grand Tetons to echo a willingness to remain accommodative if economic conditions worsen, a refrain he's been sounding for weeks. That's not the nod to QE3 that folks seemed to be counting on two weeks ago but it would also be far from a shocking development.

"We expect Mr. Bernanke will sound dovish, once again expressing disappointment with the recovery, highlighting downside risks and making it clear that more stimulus is now actively being considered," wrote Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. "However, he is unlikely to send a definitive signal on what measures, if any, are likely as soon as the September 12-13 FOMC meeting, especially since a numer of important economic reports are imminent."

The biggest report is, of course, the August jobs report, whose prospects grew a bit dimmer after Thursday's elevated read on weekly initial claims. It make sense that Bernanke won't want to be too strident about anything, or shed much light on what the Fed is considering without this key piece of data being public.

O'Sullivan believes that, at minimum, the Fed will extend the timeframe for its near-zero interest rates pledge at the September meeting. He puts the chances of QE3 being announced at 50%.

The earnings calendar is empty on Friday ahead of the long Labor Day weekend but there are a few pieces of economic data to deal with including the Chicago purchasing managers index for August at 9:45 a.m. ET; the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment reading for August at 9:55 a.m. ET; and factory orders for July at 10 a.m. ET.

And finally, it was a fairly busy after-hours session on Thursday with Splunk (SPLK - Get Report) was making a big splash in late trades after reporting a narrower than expected loss for its fiscal second-quarter results with revenue coming in 12% ahead of consensus.

The San Francisco data software specialist, which said it added nearly 400 new customers in the July-ended quarter, also boosted its revenue outlook for the full year to between $183 million and $186 million, up from a prior range of $174 million to $177 million.

The stock was last quoted at $34.50, up 13.1%, on volume of nearly 300,000, according to Nasdaq.com.

Shares of OmniVision Technologies (OVTI - Get Report) were surging as well after the Santa Clara, Calif.-based maker of advanced digital imaging products, which acknowledged its margins still being pressured by its cost structure, said it sees non-GAAP earnings of 21 to 37 cents a share for its fiscal second quarter ending in October on revenue of $355 million to $390 million.

That view is well ahead on the top line of the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 33 cents a share in the quarter on revenue of $268.6 million. The shares jumped nearly 10% after the close to $17.43 on volume of more than 1.3 million.

Zumiez (ZUMZ - Get Report) was Thursday's late loser, falling more than 14% to $27.70 on volume of roughly 300,000, after the specialty retailer gave a weak guidance. The company sees earnings of 42 to 45 cents a share on revenue of $181 million to $185 million for its October-ending fiscal third quarter, well below the current consensus view for a profit of 56 cents a share on revenue of $183.8 million.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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