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The market has been trying to read the


thoughts for weeks now, and in the coming week, at least some of that thinking will be revealed.

"Next week will revolve around the FOMC announcement on Thursday afternoon," says Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management. "All the data, discussions and trading leading up to the Fed's statement will just set the stage."

The market is virtually certain that Ben Bernanke and friends will yet again raise interest rates, and investors will be looking for clues about future action. A 25-basis-point hike would raise short-term rates to 5.25% and would be the 17th straight increase since June 2004.

"There's a lot of rhetoric ahead of the Fed meeting, whether they raise 25 or 50 basis points, but while the Fed has remained vigilant on inflation, I believe the Fed is more concerned with slowing economic growth," says Randy Diamond, sales trader at Miller Tabak. "Too strong a statement by the Fed could disrupt the bond market and further invert the yield curve, pushing the economy further into a recessionary condition."

If the Fed delivers a hike and does not back it up with tough talk, says Diamond, then there could be further speculation in the various asset classes, increasing inflation expectations. In that case, commodities would soar, the dollar would weaken and "the Fed would have an upward climb against these new forces of inflation, and the funds rate would ultimately go higher."

Though the Fed may hog the spotlight, several other pieces of economic news will hit the tape throughout the week, starting with new home sales for May on Monday. Economists are expecting sales to come in at a rate of 1.15 million new homes on an annualized basis, up from 1.198 million in April.

On Tuesday, June consumer confidence will be reported. The Thomson First Call consensus estimate is for a reading of 103, down from 103.2 the prior month. Existing-home sales for May are also on tap, with economists looking for 6.62 million transactions on an annualized basis, down from 6.76 million a month earlier.

And before the FOMC policy statement Thursday, final first-quarter gross-domestic-product figures will be released. In late May, the number was revised to 5.3%, with the chain deflator remaining at 3.3%. The help-wanted index for May also is on tap for Thursday and is expected to remain stuck at 35.

Friday's economic releases include May personal income, which economists anticipate will rise 0.2% after 0.5% growth in April. Personal spending for May is also expected to be up 0.4%, compared with 0.6% growth the prior month.

June Chicago PMI and the Michigan sentiment index arrive on Friday as well. Pavlik expects "higher energy prices to have a slowing effect on both readings which will translate into weaker reports."

Big Names Before the Storm

What has been a rocky second quarter for the market thankfully comes to a close Friday. But before the slew of second-quarter profit reports flood in, a few big-hitters will bask in the earnings spotlight.

On Monday, companies reporting quarterly results will include


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is also slated to report earnings on Monday and is sure to gain the market's attention with the homebuilding sector under pressure. Analysts expect the company to post earnings of $1.86 a share for the May quarter, up from $1.55 last year, on revenue of $3.86 billion.

The focus turns to footwear on Tuesday with


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Stride Rite


releasing results.

Wednesday's lineup offers a little bit of tech on the menu, including


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Red Hat




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Food maker


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is also slated to report earnings on Wednesday. Analysts expect the maker of Hebrew National hot dogs and Chef Boyardee pasta to post earnings of 29 cents a share, up from 26 cents last year, on revenue of $3.24 billion.

Fellow grocery store mainstay

General Mills

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will report on Thursday. Earlier this month, the company preannounced that it expects to report earnings of $2.90 a share for the year ended May 28, up from its earlier guidance for earnings of $2.80 to $2.85 a share

Other companies taking the earnings spotlight Thursday include


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Constellation Brands

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Research In Motion


is also slated to report earnings on Thursday. Wall Street is calling for the BlackBerry maker to report a profit of 65 cents a share, up from 56 cents last year, on revenue of $602 million.