The coming week may be holiday-shortened, but it is jam-packed with earnings and economic data.

"What's the most important bit of information next week? All of it!" says Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management.

The fourth-quarter earnings reporting season will begin to heat up, with some of the biggest companies in the S&P 500 releasing their results and perhaps providing a peek at 2007 expectations.

Elsewhere, speeches by several top Federal Reserve members may provide clues into their interest rate-thinking and ease recent market uncertainty. The government's consumer price and producer price index reports, meanwhile, will directly speak to inflation.

The manufacturing slowdown will be addressed by regional manufacturing reports, as well as industrial production and capacity utilization releases. And housing-start and building-permit figures will shed light on the status of the troubled housing market.

"There are no bears in the forest right now, so next week's data will either let the bulls push through the top and squeeze the shorts out of their minds and money, or it will give the bears some confidence to start a correction," says Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial.

Earnings Blitz

The stock and bond markets will be closed on Monday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

When traders return on Tuesday, the earnings parade starts with reports from Commerce Bancorp ( CBH), Forest Labs ( FRX) and Wells Fargo ( WFC).

The biggest name will be after the market closes, when Dow component Intel ( INTC) reports. According to Thomson First Call, analysts expect the chip giant to post fourth-quarter earnings of 25 cents a share, down from 40 cents a year ago, on revenue of $9.45 billion. Intel's own projections called for revenue of $9.1 billion to $9.7 billion.

Wednesday's highlights include releases from Lennar ( LEN), Southwest Airlines ( LUV) and Washington Mutual ( WM).

Apple ( AAPL), fresh off news of its pending iPhone, is on tap to report earnings Wednesday afternoon. Analysts are looking for the tech giant to post a profit of 78 cents a share, up from 65 cents last year, and sales of $6.42 billion.

Among some of the notable names on Thursday's earnings docket are Continental Airlines ( CAL), Merrill Lynch ( MER) and UnitedHealth ( UNH).

Friday will see three heavy hitters step to the plate: GE ( GE), Citigroup ( C) and Motorola ( MOT). GE recently backed its projections for 2006, while cellphone giant Motorola warned earlier this month.

Inflation Nation?

The week's string of economic releases starts Tuesday with the January New York Empire State Index. Economists are looking for a reading of 20, down from 23.1 the prior month.

Wednesday will bring several economic reports, including the December producer price index. Economists anticipate an increase of 0.6%, down from 2% growth a month earlier. Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PPI is expected to rise 0.1%, compared with 1.3% growth in November.

December capacity utilization figures also arrive Wednesday morning. Economists predict the number will remain unchanged from the prior month at 81.8%. Meanwhile, industrial production for December is estimated to have climbed 0.1% after 0.2% growth in November.

Rounding out Wednesday's economic schedule are net foreign purchases for November, the Fed's beige book and speeches from regional Fed Presidents Janet Yellen and William Poole on the economy.

More inflation data hits the market on Thursday, with the December CPI. Economists predict the index will rise by 0.5%, compared with a flat reading in November. The consensus estimate for the core CPI is an increase of 0.2% in December, after a flat reading the prior month.

The inflation number, viewed as important data for the Fed's policymaking, will come on the day Chairman Ben Bernanke will be speaking before the Senate Banking Committee.

Also scheduled for Thursday are December's housing starts figures. Economists are looking for a rate of 1.575 million starts on an annualized basis, compared with 1.59 million in November. Building permits for December are expected to remain relatively unchanged at a rate of 1.51 million.

The January Philadelphia Fed survey also is on tap for Thursday, and the index is expected to come in at 3, up from a reading of negative 4.3 in December.

Friday's lone economic release will be the preliminary Michigan consumer sentiment, which is forecast to come in at 92, up from 91.7 the prior month.

RealMoney Barometer Poll

1 What would best describe your stance heading into the coming week of trading?
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2 Which of these sectors do you think is set to move up in the coming week?
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Before joining TheStreet.com, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.

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