Coming Week: Shift Into Overdrive

More than 700 earnings reports, a Fed meeting and GDP numbers will keep traders busy.
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Earnings season continues in full throttle in the coming week, though a Fed meeting on Wednesday will give traders a pit stop from profit reports.

"Except for a brief timeout to listen to the Fed, the earnings train will continue to roll -- and roil -- the markets next week," says Randy Diamond, sales trader with Miller Tabak. "The

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

earnings miss and guidance has evened out the debate between the bulls and bears as many had started to dismiss the bearish scenarios attached to the housing market slowdown."

Shares of

Dow

component Caterpillar fell nearly 15% Friday, weighing on the industrial average, after one of the biggest earnings disappointments of the week.

Overall, the major indices finished mixed last week following a barrage of earnings reports. The Dow rose 42 points, or 0.4%, last week, and crossed the 12,000 threshold for the first time. The S&P 500 gained 3 points, or 0.2%, and the Nasdaq was lower by 15 points, or 0.6%.

"We'll get more than 700 companies reporting quarterly results next week, but so far this earnings season has proven quite impressive," says Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management. "That said, there have been several notable earnings misses from the likes of

Motorola

(MOT)

,

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

,

Illinois Tool

(ITW) - Get Report

, and Caterpillar, so there are some questions out there."

The profit parade resumes on Monday with quarterly reports from big names such as

Ford

(F) - Get Report

,

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and

Kraft Foods

(KFT)

.

Other heavy hitters Monday include

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

,

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

and

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

.

The pace picks up on Tuesday, with reports from Dow components

Altria Group

(MO) - Get Report

and

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

, along with

Corning

(GLW) - Get Report

and

Lockheed Martin

(LMT) - Get Report

.

After the bell Tuesday,

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

will run through the earnings jungle. According to Thomson First Call, analysts expect the Internet retail giant to post earnings of 3 cents a share, down from 7 cents last year, on revenue of $2.25 billion.

Wednesday's highlights include reports from

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

,

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

and

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

.

Harrah's

(HET)

also will take the spotlight on Wednesday, and investors will be looking for the casino operator to give an update on a recent private equity buyout bid for the company. For the third quarter, Wall Street expects Harrah's to report a profit of 99 cents a share on revenue of $2.42 billion.

On Thursday, some of the notable names joining the earnings whirl include

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

,

Black & Decker

(BDK)

,

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Report

and

Kellogg

(K) - Get Report

.

Also reporting on Thursday are

NYSE Group

(NYX)

,

Raytheon

(RTN) - Get Report

and

Sun Microsystems

(SUNW) - Get Report

.

After the bell, all eyes will be on

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

. Analysts expect the company to report earnings of 31 cents a share, on par with last year, on revenue of $10.75 billion.

The action subsides a bit on Friday, though

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

and

Ingersoll-Rand

(IR) - Get Report

will report.

Fed Ahead

On Wednesday afternoon, the market will pause from its regularly scheduled earnings onslaught to absorb the October Federal Open Market Committee policy statement. And while the consensus across Wall Street is that the Fed will leave rates unchanged, there is a growing belief that its members will soon be forced to address the problem of slowing economic growth.

"The Fed is still in a data-dependent mode, because there are still inflationary concerns and now growth concerns," says Jason Schenker, economist at Wachovia. "The Fed's main job is to control inflation and to ensure trendlike growth, so they now have two balls to juggle."

Besides the Fed's policy statement on Wednesday, the market also will receive the National Association of Realtors' report on existing-home sales for September. According to Thomson First Call, economists are expecting a sales rate of 6.2 million homes on an annual basis, down from 6.3 million last month.

Additional housing data arrive on Thursday with September's new-home sales figures. Sales are expected to tick up to a rate of 1.06 million on an annual basis, up from 1.05 million a month earlier.

Durable goods orders for September are on tap for Thursday as well. Economists anticipate a rise of 1%, compared with a flat reading in August.

Friday brings another high-profile report: the advance third-quarter gross domestic product number. Economists expect GDP to drop to 2.2% from 2.6% in the second quarter. The accompanying chain deflator is expected to drop to 2.9% from 3.3% the prior period.

"Third-quarter economic activity was unsurprisingly weak," says Rich Yamarone, chief economist at Argus Research. "Record-high energy prices and the housing market slump undoubtedly shaved off a good portion of growth."

But those issues may no longer be a major factor to the market.

"Energy and housing have since made considerable gains," Yamarone notes. "The outlook is actually looking much brighter for the current quarter."