NEW YORK (
-- Violence in Libya continues to cause oil to spike higher, creating a flight to safety as money flows into bonds and gold and the greenback weakens. With no resolution in sight, Friday morning will open with all eyes on crude prices and equity futures.
Positive economic data hasn't been able to overcome this dynamic and it's doubtful that tomorrow's read on fourth-quarter gross domestic product will break the pattern. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. EST, and economists are looking for a healthy 3.2% growth figure.
One area the market will pay close attention to is inventory investments because the third quarter showed a dramatic decrease to $7 billion from $121 billion. Also worth watching is the price index component, which jumped to 2.1% from 0.7 % in the third quarter.
Strong GDP numbers earlier in 2010 haven't trickled down to Joe Six-Pack, whose house is still undervalued. Existing home sales this week consisted of foreclosure and all-cash sales, which mean banks held a massive fire sale.
The Michigan Consumer Sentiment comes in at 9:55 a.m. EST. If the 500 people surveyed were in one of the states where union workers are protesting, this number may come down. The expectations portion of the survey had already begun to pull back last month. Rising gas prices, protesting union workers and state and municipal layoffs on the horizon will cause this number to lose its rosy tone.
Earnings season is winding down but there's still some fireworks left as evidenced by Thursday's busy
. It's been something of a mixed bag for the quarter when compared to the previous results. Roughly 68% and 66% of S&P 500 companies have beaten expectations for EPS and revenues, respectively, vs. 71% and 56% by this time last quarter.
reported their quarters after the close with each turning in multi-billion dollar losses. Fannie wants to begin punishing banks for the slow efforts to resolve the bad mortgages because the lengthy delays are costing the company millions. A $20 billion settlement has been bandied about as the White House wants to put the mortgage mess behind it once and for all.
It's been a busy week for retailers and their numbers.
originally looked like it was set for Thursday, but then the company confirmed for Friday before the market opens. Wall Street's current consensus view calls for earnings of $1.08 a share for the three months ended in January.
The department store operator is insisting it's in good shape as far as cotton prices are concerned saying that it has made all its cotton purchases for 2011.
But the company has a high percentage of its business in private label brands and those are sure to see price increases later this year. Those cotton-heavy hoodies? They will be going out of style this fall as designers strip all the extra cotton pieces out of any outfit. Polyester will be in and cotton will be out.
Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.
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