NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Earnings season starts in earnest next week with several technology and bank bellwethers set to report quarterly results. Companies are expected to deliver another round of strong quarterly performances, though with the Dow and the S&P 500 rising for seven straight weeks, investors may be tough to impress. Stocks rose last week, led by stronger-than-expected earnings from Intel ( INTC) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM). Concerns about Europe's debt crisis eased after Japan commited to buying eurozone bonds to help support the region and Portugal managed a successful bond auction. Gains were capped by an unfavorable jobless claims report, lower-than-expected retail sales and a surprise drop in consumer sentiment. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll In Asia, monetary tightening by China and Korea and rising inflation in India hurt stock markets, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng and India's Sensex finished the week lower. Commodity markets were mixed as crude prices rose amid tightening inventories and gold prices corrected sharply as developing countries took steps to curb inflation.
In the holiday-shortened trading week ahead, macro concerns and economic reports might take a backseat, as investors focus their attention on corporate earnings and management guidance for the current quarter and 2011. Phil Orlando, chief market strategist at Federated Investors, says he expects guidance to be a lot more positive in light of the recent economic outlook, but he adds that the pace of earnings acceleration will likely slow because companies cannot squeeze costs much further. The S&P 500 is expected to have finished 2010 with EPS of about $80, a 30% increase over the previous year. That growth is expected to slow, however, to less than 15% in 2011 and 12% in 2012, according to estimates from Bloomberg. Companies also face the challenge of coming up against tougher year-over-year comparisons. "This could be the last round of quarterly beats," Orlando told TheStreet, although he expects the market to continue to stay strong as valuation multiples are still fair.