"Even a fairly modest 0.3% month-over-month rise in retail sales values in December would probably be enough to secure a 2.5% annualized gain in real consumption in the fourth quarter as a whole. That would be a healthy improvement from the third quarter's 1.7%," Paul Ashworth and Paul Dales of Capital Economics wrote. "With income growth still very weak, however, there is a danger that in due course real consumption growth will slow." Although Italy auctions its bonds on the last day of trading next week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will report how U.S. import and export prices moved during December. Economists expect little change in the month, seeing export prices rising 0.1% and import prices falling 0.1% for the month. A drop in import prices would reverse the previous month's 0.7% gain, while a slight rise in export prices would continue November's trend. Later in the morning the University of Michigan will reveal how the new year affected consumer sentiment. A preliminary estimate of consumer confidence in January is expected to reveal that sentiment improved 1.1 points to an index reading of 71, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. "While there is little evidence that the temporary extension to the payroll tax cut will provide a boost to sentiment, the overall economic recovery is gathering steam," Ashworth and Dales wrote. "Moreover, just like December, seasonal factors tend to add an extra two points in January. We expect the University of Michigan index to rise from 69.9 to an eight-month high of 74. That said, in a truly healthy economic environment, this measure of confidence would be at 85 or above." Key companies scheduled to report earnings this week following Alcoa include Synnex ( SNX) and WD-40 ( WDFC) on Tuesday. Chevron ( CVX) is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of $3.29 a share on Wednesday, while homebuilder Lennar ( LEN) is expected to see earnings of 49 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) will round off the week on Friday. The bank, which topped Bank of America ( BAC) to become the largest U.S. lender by assets in the third quarter, is expected to report earnings of 93 cents a share. That would mark a 17% decline from the same quarter a year earlier. -- Written by Kaitlyn Kiernan in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Kaitlyn Kiernan To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @Kaitlyn_Kiernan.