When they're not fretting over the nation's credit rating, investors next week will be dissecting second-quarter earnings reports and keeping tabs on key housing data.
Corporate earnings have been strong throughout 2011, fueling stock market growth. But those results havent translated into support for the broader U.S. economy.
Companies that stripped down during the worst of the recent financial crisis seem to be doing more with less. Consequently, with the economy still in flux, theyre in no hurry to expand their businesses and hire new employees.
Shareholders have benefited and workers 401k programs are being replenished, but U.S. unemployment remains stubbornly high.
Bellwether companies set to report their quarterly results next week, according to Reuters, include IBM (NYSE:IBM), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), Charles Schwab (NASDAQ:SCHW) and Gannett (NYSE:GCI) on Monday; Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) on Tuesday; American Express (NYSE:AXP), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) on Wednesday; Chubb Corp. (NYSE:CB), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Travelers (NYSE:TRV) on Thursday; and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) on Friday.
On the housing front, the July NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is due Monday. The June data on housing starts and permits is due Tuesday. The National Association of Realtors will release data on sales of existing homes on Wednesday.
Housing data was dreadful throughout the spring and economists are hoping the numbers start to tick upward, although theres no pressing reason to believe they will. Housing prices are still tumbling and inventories are still overflowing with foreclosed homes. Potential buyers are sitting on the sidelines wondering how low prices will fall before they should step in.
It will be a slow week for economic data, but not barren. The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook for July and the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicator for June are both due Thursday.
Meanwhile, of course, the debate over raising the debt ceiling and how best to rein in future deficits will go on in Washington, D.C.