Yes, the unemployment rate sank below 9% in February, but investors didn't seem to be impressed by that data. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 all fell on Friday -- over concerns about how the ongoing unrest in the Middle East might affect energy prices, and thus the economic recovery.
So is there anything on this coming week's economic calendar likely to bring excitement to the markets? Here's what's on tap:
Monday:Consumer credit numbers in January
Tuesday: Weekly chain store sales, TIPP Economic Optimism Index
Wednesday:Wholesale trade in January, federal budget balance in February
Thursday: U.S. trade balance in January, Import Price Index for February, initial jobless claims for last week
Friday: Retail sales in February, Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, business inventories in January
Retail sales are expected to be higher on rising fuel prices and strong auto sales, which may also boost the consumer credit numbers. But rising energy prices could also prove to be a damper on consumer confidence.
On the Earnings Front
Here's a glance at what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are expecting from quarterly reports scheduled for this week:
Diamond Foods (DMND): Q2 EPS of 89 cents (+46.1%) on $265.1 million (+44.%) in revenue
Boston Beer (SAM): Q4 EPS of 90 cents (+42.2%) on $118.5 million (+10.6%) in revenue
Analogic (ALOG): Q2 EPS of 45 cents (+35.6%) on $109.6 million (+6.1%) in revenue
Casey's General Stores (CASY): Q3 EPS of 50 cents (+32.%) on $1.3 billion (+15.4%) in revenue
American Eagle Outfitters (AEO): Q4 EPS of 43 cents (+23.3%) on $993.0 million (-5.%) in revenue
Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS): Q4 EPS of 72 cents (+22.2%) on $1.5 billion (+8.6%) in revenue
Vail Resorts (MTN): Q2 EPS of $1.38 (+19.6%) on $373.0 million (+24.1%) in revenue
Urban Outfitters (URBN): Q4 EPS of 52 cents (+13.5%) on $674.9 million (+14.7%) in revenue
National Semiconductor (NSM): Q3 EPS of 24 cents (+8.3%) on $353.9 million (-2.2%) in revenue
Of the above companies, Canadian Solar, Diamond Foods, Dick's, Casey's, Vail Resorts and Urban Outfitters have First Call buy recommendations -- but only Diamond Foods, Dick's, Urban Outfitters and National Semiconductor have regularly topped consensus earnings estimates in the past four quarters. Shares of Analogic, Dick's and National Semiconductor are near their 52-week highs.
Others expected to report growth in earnings from a year ago include Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), Brown-Forman (BF.B), Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ), Jo-Ann Stores (JAS), Kronos Worldwide (KRO), Pall Corp. (PLL) and Smithfield Foods (SFD). But analysts expect to see quarterly losses from Ciena (CIEN), Coldwater Creek (CWTR) and Men's Wearhouse (MW).
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