Investors today have one eye on the Employment Cost Index ( definition | chart | source ) and the other on a fresh set of earnings announcements.

A market mover and shaker, the ECI measures the change in labor costs of labor and is considered one of the leading inflation indicators. Although today's data probably won't produce any big surprises, it will give Wall Street a sense of whether the

Federal Reserve will raise interest rates Aug. 22.

TSC's

James Padinha discussed the importance of the number in a

story on Wednesday.

Companies in the earnings spotlight include

American International Group

(AIG) - Get Report

, whose stock has been on the rise since July 21. Also today,

WorldCom

(WCOM)

dials in second-quarter results and

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

serves up its latest blend of third-quarter numbers.

Expected Earnings Reports

This table includes S&P 500 companies only. Dates are as expected according to First Call/Thomson Financial, and may change. The full week's earnings calendar is published separately.

Economic Data

(

Forecasts are from

Reuters

. Times are Eastern. For a longer-term economic calendar and more, see

TSC's

Economic Databank.

)

  • 8:30 a.m.: Employment Cost Index for Q2 '00. Source: Labor Department. Forecast: +1.2%. Previous: +1.4%.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Durable goods orders for June. Source: Census Bureau. Forecast: +0.1%. Previous: +6.1%. Includes: Ex-transportation. Forecast: N/A. Previous: +6.9%.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Initial jobless claims for the week ended Saturday. Source: Labor Department. Forecast: 302,000. Previous: 311,000. Includes: Four-week average. Forecast: N/A. Previous: 305,750.
  • 10 a.m.: Help-Wanted Index for June. Source: Conference Board. Forecast: N/A. Previous: 83.
  • 11 a.m.: Treasury buyback. Source: Treasury Department. The Treasury buys securities specified yesterday from dealers.