The focus shifts from ballot to gift boxes in the coming week as the nation's largest retailers release quarterly results.

"We're going to have a fresh start next week," says Art Hogan, chief market analyst with Jefferies. "We're winding down on earnings season and traders can now put the election behind them."

The election may be behind traders, but the holiday season is ahead. The coming week will give insight to the shopping power of the consumer, with a multitude of retail earnings reports, as well as inflation data.

The nation's largest retailer,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

has already been gearing up for the holiday season by announcing aggressive discounts for electronics and appliances. The Bentonville, Ark., behemoth will be one of the key retail reports of the week when it releases results Tuesday. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expect the company to post earnings of 60 cents a share, up from 57 cents last year, on revenue of $84.5 billion.

Wal-Mart's biggest rival,

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

, also will be taking the stage Tuesday. For Wall Street, the discount retailer would hit the bull's-eye with earnings of 55 cents a share, up from 49 cents last year.

Other retailers reporting on Tuesday include

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

,

American Eagle Outfitters

(AEOS)

and

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

.

On Wednesday, the retail roundup continues, with releases from

Men's Warehouse

(MW)

,

Talbots

(TLB)

and

PetSmart

(PETM)

The reports continue to roll in on Thursday, with the market hearing from big names

Sears Holdings

(SHLD)

,

Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

,

Limited Brands

(LTD)

and

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

.

On Friday,

AnnTaylor Stores

(ANN)

and

Foot Locker

(FL) - Get Report

will wrap up the retail-heavy week with their reports.

There also will be plenty of big-name earnings outside of retail. On Tuesday, homebuilding giant

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

will report its fiscal fourth-quarter results, and the market will be watching for any clues about its outlook on the housing market for 2007.

Wednesday will feature reports from chip-equipment maker

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

and conglomerate

Tyco International

(TYC)

.

And on Thursday, personal-computing rivals

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

will go head-to-head with their quarterly earnings figures.

Inflation Nation?

A series of mixed economic reports have pushed inflation fears back onto the front burner, and the coming week's release of the consumer and producer price indexes could once again turn up the heat on rate-hike speculation for early 2007.

But first, the economic data will kick off with the October Treasury budget, which arrives Monday. Economists surveyed by First Call are expecting a slight decrease in the deficit to $45 billion from $47.4 billion in September.

The eagerly anticipated PPI will be released on Tuesday morning. Economists predict the index will show a decrease of 0.4%, narrower than the 1.3% drop a month earlier. Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PPI is expected to rise 0.1%, compared with 0.6% growth in September.

"The PPI is always a crapshoot," says Jeffries Hogan. "It's more important at this time as the concern over inflationary pressures has been rekindled."

Also on Tuesday, retail sales for October and business inventories for September will be released. Retail sales for the month are expected to fall 0.3% after dropping 0.4% the prior month.

Excluding autos, retail sales are expected to drop 0.2% compared with a 0.5% decline in September. Business inventories for September are forecast to rise 0.5%, down slightly from August's growth of 0.6%.

Wednesday will bring the release of the minutes from the

FOMC's

October meeting, as well as the New York Empire State Index.

More inflation data hits the market on Thursday with the October CPI, which economists predict will decrease by 0.3%, compared with a drop of 0.5% in September.

The consensus estimate for the core CPI is an increase of 0.2% on par with the prior month.

"Both inflation reports will be widely anticipated, especially since the latest non-farm payroll report reawakened concerns over inflation," says Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management.

Industrial production for October also will arrive Thursday morning. Economists are looking for an increase of 0.2%, a reversal from the drop of 0.6% in September. October's capacity utilization is expected to tick up slightly to 82% from 81.9% the month prior.

Finally, housing returns to the spotlight on Friday, as housing starts and building permits for October are released, along with preliminary Michigan consumer sentiment data.

"I'm anxious to see if there's any stabilization in terms of inflationary news," says James Park, managing director with Rodman & Renshaw. "One day we have strength and another we don't in terms of economic reports. We need some consistency."