Coming Week: Earnings Appear

Now that the Federal Reserve has made its decision, the market's attention moves back to earnings in the holiday-shortened coming week.

"The focus has shifted from the Fed and rate hikes to corporate guidance as preannouncement period filters into earnings season," says Randy Diamond, sales trader at Miller Tabak. "The key to next week's action will be the response to poor, or even modestly positive, numbers. The general feeling is that portfolios are not positioned well for an earnings shortfall."

Ed Peters, chief investment officer with PanAgora Asset Management, is less worried about problems on the earnings front heading into reporting season, however. Peters says he expects "improved earnings and a generally positive tone" next week, provided that oil doesn't climb above $60 again.

Though next week kicks off earnings season, the schedule will be very light.

Only a single U.S. company will report quarterly earnings Tuesday, the day after the Fourth of July holiday. Massachusetts-based semiconductor chip tester ADE ( ADEX) is slated to report after the bell that day. Analysts expect ADE to earn 39 cents a share, up from 23 cents last year, on $30 million in revenue.

Things pick up a little on Wednesday with a handful of companies taking the earnings spotlight including Cutter & Buck ( CBUK), Acuity Brands ( AYI), Ruby Tuesday ( RI) and Capstone Turbine ( CPST).

The so-called official start to earnings takes place on Thursday with Alcoa ( AA). Consensus estimates call for the aluminum giant to post fiscal second-quarter earnings of 46 cents a share, on par with last year, with sales of $6.6 billion.

Other companies reporting Thursday include Accenture ( ACN), GenCorp ( GY), Pepsi Bottling Group ( PBG) and International Speedway ( ISCA).

Only Minneapolis-based hair salon operator Regis ( RGS) is on tap to report earnings Friday. The company may or may not beat analyst estimates of 64 cents for the quarter, but at least you know they'll look good when speaking to analysts.

Economics Still Imperative

Traders may be reverting their focus to corporate earnings, but economic data will still play a big role in the coming week, most notably Friday's nonfarm payrolls number.

May factory orders arrive on Tuesday. Economists estimate an increase of 3.1%, up from 0.9% the prior month. Merrill Lynch says it's looking for a 1.7% gain for the month because of softer-than-expected nondurable orders, which make up about half of factory orders.

The consensus estimate is 59 for Wednesday's June ISM services report. That's up from 58.5 in May. And on Thursday the market will get initial jobless claims for the week ending July 2.

Friday is the big day for economic data, with wholesale inventories and consumer credit accompanying the jobs report.

Nonfarm payrolls for June will be the headliner, of course. Economists are expecting 175,000 jobs to be added, more than double the 78,000 created in May.

Merrill Lynch sees nonfarm payrolls increasing by 160,000 in June. In a report, Merrill attributes the rebound in jobs to increased labor market activity after the "unseasonably wet and cool weather in May." Merrill economists also agree with the consensus that the unemployment rate will remain at 5.1% and the average workweek will be 33.8 hours.

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