Economic news will come back to the fore after a hectic earnings season in the coming week, with investors especially interested in tidings from
Chairman Alan Greenspan's semiannual address to Congress, which begins in Washington on Wednesday.
"The earnings game is behind us," said Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. Next week will be "a shift of focus from micro to macro."
If the economic reports are positive, the general tone of the market will be positive as well, Hogan said. But if they're too positive, rate fears re-emerge.
"It will be a tug of war between when rates might be going up at sometime in the future," said Richard Nash, an independent strategist. For now, though, Friday's employment numbers "indicate we have more time to be patient."
both added about 1% last week, although the
slipped. Investors will no doubt continue looking for signs of a correction, particularly given the jitters sown by the Fed's rewording of Jan. 28.
The S&P 500 is up about 30% year over year, helped by positive upside earnings announcements from a number of companies in the past month, noted Hogan.
A few canned events could be occasion for turbulence in the coming week. Greenspan is set to speak to the Committee on Financial Services at the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday and Thursday. Given Friday's weaker-than-expected jobs report, investors will be interested to hear Greenspan's speech "to get a feel of if the Fed is going to let
interest rates stay put," said Nash.
Thursday's weekly jobless claims data will be vetted for signs that the labor market is sound. "Each week, given the data we've seen, clearly indicates we are in a recovery mode," said Nash. "The only remaining question is if we will get better job data going forward."
Friday's release of the University of Michigan's preliminary reading of February consumer sentiment should also help shed light on the staying power of the economic recovery, said Paul Nolte, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates. Analysts expect a relatively flat reading of 103.6, from 103.8 in the prior month.
"I would anticipate that the Michigan survey looks better because the market continues to do better and interest rates are low," said Nolte.
But he is more interested in the University of Michigan's comments on the economy rather than the sentiment number itself. "Jobs are the big bugaboo -- Are jobs plentiful or is the outlook positive going forward? Do consumers plan on increasing their spending?" he asked.
A few earnings releases could be of interest this week, too, especially in the cable sector, said Nolte.
releases on Wednesday, while
is on Thursday.
"That sector has been goofy," said Nolte. Comcast, for one, has been the "poster child for nonconventional earnings," the analyst said. Because cable companies tend to have such a heavy investment in equipment and services, investors tend to focus on metrics like free cash flow. Negative reports from the companies could bring down the technology and telecom sectors, which also took a hit last week after
less-than-hardy future sales guidance.
The rest of the week's economic data has December's wholesale inventories on Monday, which are expected to increase 0.3% from the prior month's 0.5%. Business inventories on Wednesday are forecast to increase 0.2%, compared to the 0.3% rise in November.
Retail sales for January will be released on Thursday with analysts' projecting a 0.4% increase from the prior month's 0.1% increase.
On Friday, the international trade balance, along with the import and export indexes, will be released. International trade is expected to be a deficit of $39.7 billion from the prior month's deficit of $38 billion. Both those results are expected to be impacted by the weak U.S. dollar, analysts said.
Other earnings releases next week include
on Wednesday; and
May Department Stores