Coming Week: Data Deluge

Traders will look to keep the market's recent run afloat amid a flood of earnings reports.
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With the

Dow

only a breath away from the 12,000 mark, investors in the coming week will be counting on a flood of earnings reports and economic data to provide the swell needed to throw it over the top.

Last week, the Dow continued its record-setting pace and rose 110 points, or 0.9%, to 11,960.51. The

S&P 500

gained 16 points, or 1.2%, for the week, and the

Nasdaq

jumped 57 points, or 2.5%.

The market's gains came despite a relatively lukewarm start to earnings season, with early disappointments from

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

and

Genentech

(DNA)

. But this week's earnings downpour should provide a better picture of profits -- and results are expected to be strong.

Currently, third-quarter earnings are expected to have grown roughly 14%, which would mark the 13th consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth.

"Companies now have a chance to prove wrong the naysayers who believe the current string of 12 consecutive quarters of double-digit earnings growth will be coming to an end," says Randy Diamond, sales trader at Miller Tabak.

The earnings onslaught begins on Monday with quarterly reports from

Commerce Bancorp

(CBH) - Get Report

,

Charles Schwab

(SCHW) - Get Report

and

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

.

The pace picks up sharply on Tuesday. Among those reporting in the morning are financial giant

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

, along with Dow components

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

and

United Technologies

.

Tech takes the spotlight after the bell Tuesday, with reports from heavyweights

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

,

Motorola

(MOT)

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

.

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

also will release results Tuesday. The Internet search giant roiled the markets last month after warnings that third-quarter numbers may be toward the lower end of its guidance because of weakness in financial and auto advertising. According to Thomson First Call, analysts expect earnings of 11 cents a share, down from 16 cents a year ago, on revenue of $1.15 billion.

Wednesday's highlights include checks of the profit health of medical-device makers

Abbott Laboratories

(ABT) - Get Report

,

St. Jude

(STJ)

and

Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Report

. Dow component

JPMorgan

(JPM) - Get Report

also will report.

After the bell, investors will peel away at results from

Apple Computer

(AAPL) - Get Report

. Analysts are looking for the Mac and iPod maker to post earnings of 50 cents a share, up from 38 cents last year, on sales of $4.67 billion.

Thursday will see results from five Dow components:

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

,

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

,

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

,

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Report

and

Coca Cola

(KO) - Get Report

.

Also taking part in Thursday's earnings frenzy are

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

,

Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Report

,

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

and

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

.

And as usual, all eyes will be on

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

when it reports after the bell Thursday. Analysts expect the company to post earnings of $2.42 a share, up from $1.51 last year, on revenue of $1.81 billion.

The action subsides a bit on Friday, but there should still be some stirrings following earnings announcements from heavy-hitters such as

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

,

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

,

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and

Schering Plough

(SGP)

.

Economic Agenda

The heavy earnings calendar won't be the only thing keeping traders busy next week. There are also some heavy-duty economic data on the docket, most notably key inflation figures.

The September producer price index will be released on Tuesday. According to Thomson First Call, economists expect the PPI to drop 0.6%, after growth of 0.1% in August. Excluding food and energy, however, the core PPI is expected to rise 0.2%, a major turnaround from the decline of 0.4% the prior month.

The PPI's sibling, the consumer price index, will hit the tape Wednesday. The CPI is expected to fall 0.3% in September, a reversal from its rise of 0.2% in August. Meanwhile, the core CPI is predicted to remain steady at 0.2%.

"After several months of sharp increases, both inflation reports have leveled off at the top line and have actually started to decline at the core level, which has alleviated many inflationary worries and has allowed the

Fed

to stop raising interest rates," says Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management. "I'm expecting the trends will continue, especially after the sharp selloff in the price of crude oil that started in during the second week of August."

Wednesday's other data highlights include housing starts and building permits for September. Economists project home starts totaled 1.65 million on an annualized basis, down from 1.665 in August. Building permits are expected to decline to 1.715 million from 1.727 the month prior.

"People have come to expect weaker housing data and this will probably continue through the next year," says Jason Schenker, economist at Wachovia. "It's hard to know where the bottom is, but right now I can say that we are clearly not there yet."

Thursday's key data will be leading indicators for September, which is expected to rise 0.3% from a drop of 0.2% in August. The October Philadelphia Fed index also will be released, and it's projected to come in at 6.5, up from a drop of 0.4 the prior month.