Skip to main content

As the presidential candidates this week stump through crucial swing states in the Rust Belt, they will present their competing visions of economic conditions in the United States. Their descriptions of America are so starkly different, it's as if they live in two different countries.

Republican candidate Donald Trump habitually portrays America as a hellscape of rising unemployment, searing poverty and ruined businesses. Democrat Hillary Clinton accentuates falling unemployment and the resilient post-recession rebound, to convey the message that her incumbent party is a better steward of the economy.

Last Friday, Clinton got a new arrow in her quiver, when the government unveiled a blockbuster jobs report. The U.S. Labor Department reported that employers added 255,000 jobs in July, far more than the 180,000 analysts had expected and the second straight month of strong gains. The headline unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%.

The unemployment rate has fallen by more than half since peaking at 10% in the wake of the Great Recession seven years ago. Hiring in July was strong across almost every major industry and was accompanied by an uptick in the labor force participation rate of one-tenth, to 62.8%. Hourly wages also moved higher, increasing by 8 cents, or an annualized pace of 2.6%. Wage stagnation has been an election issue; the latest data partially ameliorate this concern.

The good news on the job front pushed the broader indices to record highs on Friday, as investors moved out of safer assets such as bonds and precious metals and into better growth opportunities, notably technology stocks. Over the past few weeks, tech bellwethers such as Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report have roared back to lead the market higher.

However, the recovery remains fragile, and it would only take a modicum of bad economic news to sour the moods of investors, as well as voters. In the week ahead, U.S. employment again takes center stage. Key economic reports on the docket include labor market conditions (Monday), jobless claims (Thursday) and retail sales (Friday).

Major retailers are among the sector-moving companies scheduled to report second-quarter earnings in the week ahead:

Monday: Allergan (AGN) - Get Allergan plc Report and Tyson Foods (TSN) - Get Tyson Foods Inc. Report ; Tuesday: Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) and Walt Disney (DIS) - Get The Walt Disney Company Report ; Wednesday: Michael Kors (KORS) , Wendy's (WEN) - Get Wendy's Company (The) Report , Silver Wheaton (SLW) and Shake Shack (SHAK) - Get Shake Shack Inc. Class A Report ; Thursday: Alibaba (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Limited American Depositary Shares each representing eight Report , Brinker (EAT) - Get Brinker International Inc. Report , Kohl's (KSS) - Get Kohl's Corporation Report and Macy's (M) - Get Macy's, Inc. Report . Friday: J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Report .

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Noteworthy are the second-quarter earnings estimates for Valeant, Disney, J.C. Penney and Macy's.

Apple and Allergan are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. See how Cramer rates the stock here. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells AAPL or AGN? Learn more now.

Valeant is expected to post earnings per share (EPS) of $1.48, sharply down from $2.56 in the same quarter a year ago. Valeant's shares are down nearly 79% year to date, due to a spate of pricing and financing scandals. Expect the stock to drop further.

Disney is estimated to post EPS of $1.61, compared to $1.45 in the same year-ago quarter. Wall Street has punished Disney this year, with shares down nearly 9% year to date, largely due to concerns about "cord-cutting" among its cable channels. We think those concerns are overblown, and a solid operational report on Monday could boost this undervalued stock.

Resurgent retailer J.C. Penney is expected to report a loss of 15 cents per share, a narrower loss than last year's loss in the second quarter of 41 cents. JCP's shares are up nearly 41% year to date, as the company makes headway in its online efforts to compete against e-commerce juggernaut Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com Inc. Report .

Macy's EPS is projected to come in at 45 cents, down from 64 cents last year. M shares year to date have declined nearly 3% as the retailing icon struggles to remain relevant in the fiercely competitive digital shopping realm.

Five Years From Now, You'll Probably Wish You'd Grabbed This Opportunity:As we've just explained, the broader indices have hit new highs. If you're looking for new growth opportunities in an overbought market, we've found a genius trader who turned $50,000 into $5 million by using his proprietary trading method. For a limited time, he's guaranteeing you $67,548 per year in profitable trades if you follow his simple step-by-step process. Click here now for details.

John Persinos is an editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. Persinos also appears as a regular commentator on the financial television show "Small Cap Nation." At the time of publication, he held stock in Apple and Walt Disney. Follow him on Twitter.