Today investors will hope for better economic news than they got yesterday, when a potentially inflationary

CPI report sent markets on a downward slide: The Dow lost more than 200 points yesterday, while the Nasdaq closed at its lowest point since March 3, 1999.

Headlining today's economic data is the

initial jobless claims report, slated for release before the opening bell. The report provides a snapshot of labor market conditions and could affect today's trading session.

On the earnings front, struggling retail giant

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

and women's apparel maker

Liz Claiborne

(LIZ)

report their fourth-quarter earnings today.

According to a 10-analyst consensus, J.C. Penney is expected to post a fourth-quarter loss of 4 cents a share.

Shares of J.C. Penney traded down 8.1% to finish at $13.65 and Liz Claiborne was down 1.6% to $46.88.

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.: Initial jobless claims for the week ended Feb. 17. Source: Labor Department. Forecast: 355,000. Previous: 352,000. Four-week average: Forecast: n.a. Previous: 345,000.
  • 10 a.m.: Leading economic indicators for January. Source: Conference Board. Forecast: +0.3%. Previous: -0.6%.
  • 10 a.m.: Help-Wanted Index for January. Source: Conference Board. Forecast: n.a.. Previous: 79.
  • 11 a.m.: Treasury buyback Source: Treasury Department. The Treasury buys securities specified yesterday from dealers.