Week Ahead: Second-Quarter Earnings Season

Third-quarter earnings season kicks off next week with the release of Alcoas (NYSE: AA) results on Monday.

Other bellwether companies reporting next week include Yum Brands (NYSE: YUM) on Wednesday, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) on Thursday,  and Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Mattel (NYSE: MAT) on Friday.

Corporate earnings have been strong throughout 2011, despite the sluggish economic recovery. Companies have been adapting to the lean times by doing more with less, which is good for shareholders, but not so good for the economy.

Fridays thoroughly-dismal jobs report showed that job growth is virtually non-existent in the U.S. The economy gained just 18,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate jumped to 9.2% from 9.1%.

Companies arent hiring because theyre getting the job done with fewer workers. But theyre not growing either.

The lousy jobs market has made investors practically forget about potential inflation, which had been a concern due to rising commodity prices in the spring. The topic should come up again next week with the release of the import price index on Wednesday, the producer price index on Thursday and the consumer price index on Friday.

All three indexes are expected to decline somewhat due to falling energy prices, which makes it cheaper to manufacture things.

June retail sales figures, excluding cars, are out on Thursday.

Consumer sentiment data will be released Friday and its widely expected to reflect a growing belief that the economic recovery is stalling out altogether and not just temporarily skidding.