Week Ahead: Earnings, Data, State of the Union

Earnings reports, economic data and the State of the Union speech will all garner investors’ attention next week.

Bellwether companies reporting their quarterly earnings include: McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD); Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT); Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN); Boeing (NYSE: BA); Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ); Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ).

Internet giant Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) missed expectations on Thursday, which should place additional focus on the tech sector as earnings continue to roll out.

President Obama will go before Congress on Tuesday to deliver his State of the Union address. In it he will undoubtedly call for greater harmony among the two major political parties as a way of easing uncertainty and reviving the beleaguered economy.

Among their differences is how to pay for a payroll tax-cut extension, a topic expected to be covered next week during Congressional meetings. The issue became intensely divisive at the end of 2011 with the two parties arguing over how to pay for the extension.

The Federal Open Market Committee, which sets most Fed policy, meets on Tuesday and no big announcements are expected. At some point before the end of the month, the Fed is expected to start announcing its forecasts for future interest rate changes. Still, the rates aren’t expected to move higher until at least mid-2013.

Economic data released include a report due Thursday on December durable-goods orders, which measures manufacturing. Housing data due next week include December pending home sales on Wednesday and December new home sales Thursday.

Also due next week are fourth quarter gross domestic product numbers, and a report on consumer sentiment, the Reuters-University of Michigan's index.

Three initial public offerings are scheduled from Guidewire Software and IntelePeer, both technology companies, and Verastem, a biopharmaceutical firm.