Week Ahead: Retail Earnings, Egypt Exchange to Reopen

Investors will be watching earnings next week from a handful of retail companies looking for signs of improved consumer confidence.

In Egypt, meanwhile, the country’s stock exchange will reopen after being closed since January 27 due to political unrest that pushed longtime President Hosni Mubarak out the door.

Video-rental chain Blockbuster Inc. on Thursday will be in court to seek permission to auction its assets, but it will also have to contend with a bid to convert its Chapter 11 case to a Chapter 7 liquidation

Retailers scheduled to report their latest quarterly results next week include teen-focused Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO), American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) and Hot Topic Inc. (NASDAQ: HOTT). All are expected to post mixed results, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, with only Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) expected to post stronger top- and bottom-line results.

Other retailers reporting next week include AnnTaylor Stores Corp. (NYSE: ANN), Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT), Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE), Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCE) and Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE: SSI).

Egypt's stock exchange will reopen Sunday and a big selloff is expected in response to the upheaval. The exchange was originally scheduled to return to business on Feb. 13 but strikes in the country caused a delay.

China will unveil economic targets for the year, as well as the five-year period starting 2011, on Saturday when the country's parliament kicks off its annual meeting. Key policy pronouncements from the National People's Congress will signal the latest official thinking on how to balance inflation-fighting efforts with fast economic growth.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to discuss China's growth and the situation in Afghanistan with President Barack Obama next week during a visit to the U.S. Gillard is set to meet with Obama on Monday on the nine-day visit, which begins Saturday. She is also scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, as well as hold meetings with Wall Street executives.

European Union leaders plan to hold a special summit in Brussels on March 11 to discuss developments in Libya and what additional steps the 27-nation bloc may need to take. The meeting will also discuss developments in North Africa and the E.U.'s reaction to the events in Tunisia and Egypt.

The International Monetary Fund said it will send a delegation to New Zealand next week as part of its review of the nation's economy. The IMF said it plans to downgrade its growth forecast for the country. The IMF's comments follow a devastating earthquake that razed the country's second-largest city Christchurch last month.

The Polish government is expected to send to parliament next week draft legislation cutting cash transfers to private pension funds in an effort to reduce the pace of growth of public debt. The government expects the law to cut the country's borrowing needs by 180 billion zlotys ($62.9 billion) until 2020, cabinet minister Michal Boni said.

South Korea's Financial Services Commission will announce a plan to stabilize the troubled savings-bank sector early next week as the government tries to head off systemic risks posed by the small lenders. Financial authorities are trying to contain potential risks posed by the savings banks, which are suffering from their exposure to the weak real-estate market.