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Coming Week: Treading Water

With decelerating earnings reports and little economic data, traders will watch for Iran developments.

The pace of earnings may be decelerating, but with a light economic calendar on tap, traders say corporate reports and news from Iran will be all they have to guide them in the coming week.

"Compared to the last two weeks, there are not too many scheduled events with the ability to move the entire market next week," says Brian Williamson, equity trader at Boston Company Asset Management. "So traders will try to make money by focusing on individual names and earnings reports."

Those quarterly reports kick off on Monday with the likes of


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Yum! Brands

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On Tuesday, the earnings spotlight will shine on companies including


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Boston Scientific

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And while it may not carry the clout it once did, all eyes will be on tech bellwether


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when it releases results on Tuesday. According to Thomson First Call, analysts' average estimates call for earnings of 25 cents a share, up from 22 cents a year ago, on revenue of $6.62 billion.

Wednesday's highlights include reports from


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Whole Foods Market






Insurance and benefits player


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also will report on Wednesday. Analysts are looking for the company to earn $1.66 a share, down from the $2.41 it earned last year, on sales of $4.02 billion.

The week's earnings bonanza hits its peak on Thursday, with more than 200 public companies releasing results. Among some of the notable names on the docket are

Analog Devices

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Lionsgate Entertainment



Marriott International

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Also reporting on Thursday will be

Molson Coors Brewing

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The action subsides a bit on Friday, but there should still be some stirrings following earnings announcements from


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Arch Coal

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Champion Enterprises



"So far, this earnings season has been all about the misses and not the beats," says Randy Diamond, sales trader at Miller Tabak. "Investment darlings like


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, as well as most of the financials and homebuilders have all disappointed. Will there be any other key misses next week?"

Iran & Ben

Aside from earnings, the market will focus on the Iranian nuclear issue, which has had a large bearing on energy prices. Oil prices have declined of late amid warmer weather in the U.S. In the past week, oil has dropped from close to $70 a barrel to under $65.

"The forecasts are for a frigid front in the U.S., but will it be a case of too little too late in terms of influencing energy prices?" asks Diamond.

Next week also marks Ben Bernanke's first full week as


chairman, which means investors will finally get a chance to suss out the new sheriff in town.

"Investors will start to get a feel for Bernanke as he starts to make the rounds," says Ken Tower, chief market strategist at CyberTrader. "And without much else to watch on the economic calendar, he will get a lot of attention in the coming weeks."

Bernanke is scheduled to deliver his first semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress on Feb. 15.