Coming Week: Never-Ending Earnings

A slew of financials and tech names will report, and those could well determine the direction of the market. Consumer sentiment is also on tap.
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If there are some more

Wells Fargos

(WFC) - Get Report

in the mix next week, investors could be very happy.

Last week, Wells Fargo, along with falling oil prices, helped buoy a market that had gotten to incredibly low levels by releasing a

better-than-expected earnings report

.

Over the five trading sessions, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

jumped 4.5% to 11,496.57, the

S&P 500

gained 1.7% to 1260.68, and the

Nasdaq Composite

added 2% to 2282.78.

"We think the bounce can continue," says Ryan Detrick, chief technical strategist at

Schaeffer's Investment Research

. "This could be the first quarter in four that we beat overall expectations."

Detrick notes out that the 1220 to 1225 range was a double bottom for the S&P 500 in the summer of 2006, and "it sparked a tremendous rally" in the last half of that year, so an echo of that is possible here.

The earnings come fast and furious next week across all major sectors, led by a raft of Dow components. Those include

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

on Monday,

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

and

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

on Tuesday,

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

,

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

,

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

and

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

on Wednesday and

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

on Thursday.

Investors will be watching to see if the financial-sector-inspired momentum can continue, but the markets will have to get past earnings releases from a number of companies that have been the subject of concern lately. For example, on Tuesday, reporters

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

and

Washington Mutual

(WM) - Get Report

are expected to show some ugliness on their balance sheets.

Other financial companies reporting earnings include

UnionBanCal

(UB)

on Monday;

KeyCorp

(KEY) - Get Report

,

Regions Financial

(RF) - Get Report

and

SunTrust

(STI) - Get Report

on Tuesday;

SLM Corp.

(SLM) - Get Report

Wednesday;

MBIA

(MBI) - Get Report

,

Genworth Financial

(GNW) - Get Report

and

Sovereign Banc

(SOV)

on Thursday; and

T. Rowe Price

(TROW) - Get Report

on Friday.

"There's been a lot of concern" in the sector, "and some of it's been alleviated by Wells Fargo and

JPMorgan

(JPM) - Get Report

, and maybe

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

," says Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at

Oaktree Asset Management. "But those are big money-center banks, and you'll have to see how some of the smaller players in that industry are doing."

"I think there will be a differentiation between financial companies that managed their subprime exposure well and those that didn't," adds Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at

Wachovia Securities

.

The tech sector also has a big week, particularly with some high-profile recent misses (think

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

).

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

and

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

come out on Monday;

Broadcom

,

STMicroelectronics

(STM) - Get Report

and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

report on Tuesday; and

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

makes its announcement on Wednesday.

"There were high expectations relative to other sectors" for technology, Detrick says. Tech-company earnings "better be impressive" for the stocks do well, he predicts.

Biotech and Big Pharma also make an appearance, as

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

reports on Monday, and

Bristol-Myers

(BMY) - Get Report

,

Elan

(ELN)

and

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

come out on Thursday.

The energy and commodities space, one of the brightest areas these days, will see some action. Reports come from

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

on Tuesday,

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

and

Freeport-McMoRan

(FCX) - Get Report

on Wednesday, and

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

Thursday.

"The profits in the energy sector will be good, but I think the market's starting to anticipate that the global economy is going to slow, which could stifle demand," Wren says.

A group that suffers from the high energy prices will clock in as well -- the airlines.

US Airways

(LCC)

,

UAL Corp.

(UAUA)

and

JetBlue

(JBLU) - Get Report

report on Tuesday,

Northwest

(NWA)

announces on Wednesday, and

Southwest

(LUV) - Get Report

reports on Thursday.

Rounding out the long list of major earnings releases is

UPS

(UPS) - Get Report

on Tuesday,

PepsiCo

(PEP) - Get Report

Wednesday and

Ford Motor

(F) - Get Report

on Thursday.

Of course, oil-related companies aren't all that will affect the markets next week. Crude itself will be watched to see whether it could slide any further, after falling nearly $20 below its all-time high amid rising inventories, greater supply from Nigeria and the prospect of weekend talks between the U.S. and Iran.

"In the big picture, we're still in a long-term uptrend," says Tom Bentz, director and senior energy analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures. "You're starting to see more crude show up, and with the combination of more crude and less demand, we're starting to see inventories build."

He adds that from a technical standpoint, support is around $127, and "pretty significant support" in the $122 to $123 area. "I think it's going to hold."

The economic front is much quieter, though a few key releases will still catch some attention. Notably, the

Fed's

beige book report comes out on Wednesday. It's the anecdotal compilation of economic conditions, and many market observers think it's one of the most relevant and accurate indicators about the economy because it in essence "takes the pulse" of the situation.

Also, the real estate sector will be in focus, with existing-home sales data coming out Thursday, and the new-home sales version on Friday. Isolated patches of encouraging data have come out of the sector, but the trend continues to head largely downward.

Consumer sentiment also gets a read, with revised Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment data for July coming out on Friday.

"The outlook's improving, and I think the market's going to come around to realizing the world is not going to come to an end," says Wren. "We've played it pretty defensively for the last two years, but we felt like the middle of this year was probably going to be an inflection point for the market and the economy."

"We're getting less defensive and more cyclical now," he says.

Detrick agrees. "There's some real fear coming in, so on a longer-term basis, we think this is the time to start accumulating shares," he says. "We could have a potential for a nice end-of-year rally."

But many people are still cautious about the near-term outlook.

"I'm just watching and waiting," Pavlik says. "I probably have a little more cash -- and like many portfolio managers I've been talking to, I'm suspicious of the recent recovery. There are still a lot of concerns."