What Investors Will Be Watching Going Forward

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Yesterday, all of the major indices closed the day in the green, recovering nicely from their early morning dips.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI )+32.77+0.27%12,393
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) +2.89+0.23%1,281
Nasdaq (INDEX: ^IXIC )+2.34+0.09%2,677

Big news to follow up on
Though investors were probably hoping that Europe's woes solved themselves overnight and we could just get back to good old-fashioned growth again, that is not the case. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met yesterday to discuss creating a plan to save the ailing euro over the next three months. The euro has been in a steady plunge against most major currencies lately and is in desperate need of a rescue line.

Merkel and Sarkozy are pressing for a swift solution to the Greek debt crisis, or else the ailing economy will get no more bailout funds.

Fresh news to watch
The wholesale trade report, coming from the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce at 10:00am today, will release sales and inventory statistics from the second stage of the manufacturing process. It's important to note that personal consumption is not discussed in the report, and it is therefore unlikely to move the market for the day.

However, that doesn't mean it's not worth watching. If wholesale inventories move dramatically enough, it can alter GDP outlook. With many people estimating the fourth-quarter 2012 U.S. growth to be a paltry 3%, it's something to consider.

Will they feast or famine?
Earnings season kicked off with a revenue beat but earnings miss by Alcoa (NYS: AA) yesterday. The company posted a loss of $0.03 a share but recorded revenue up 6%. It also announced it will close 12% of its smelters.

Next up on the earnings train will be JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) , releasing on Jan. 13. Analysts are estimating earnings of $0.93 per share and have a mean target price of $46.24. This gives a fair amount of upside from the current share price of $35.30. JPMorgan is priced pretty cheap now, with a P/E of 7.5, but there are concerns that continued softness in the finance sector will be manifested in a weak top line. Many investors will be watching this release and use it as a proxy for the other financial institutions' performance.

The better approach
Trying to time earnings releases is exciting and gut-wrenching, but it can be stressful. If you'd rather pick up a great company to buy for the long term and forget about short-term performance, The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." It features a company that's hand-selected by the Fool's chief investment officer and has a strong future ahead of it. I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Get access to the report and find out the name of this legendary company. The report is free, but won't be forever, so check it out today!

At the time this article was published Austin Smith owns no shares of the companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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