Week Ahead: No Cliff, But Earnings and Housing Data

By FOXBusiness

Next week’s economic calendar lacks the drama and suspense that surrounded the negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, but there will be fourth-quarter earnings, housing and inflation data.

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High-profile companies set to kick off the fourth-quarter earnings season next week include: Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and Monsanto (NYSE: MON) on Tuesday; Ruby Tuesday (NYSE: RT) and Texas Industries (NYSE: TXI) on Wednesday; and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) on Friday.

The National Federation of Independent Business, which represents hundreds of small businesses, releases its small business optimism index on Tuesday. It’s probably too soon for the index to get a boost from the fiscal cliff deal, which, if nothing else, removed an element of uncertainty for business owners.

But the deal wasn’t reached until New Year’s Day, too late to affect the survey taken for the index. Business owners had complained for months that uncertainty tied to the looming fiscal cliff, the broad tax cuts and mandated budget cuts that would have kicked in Jan. 1 had no deal been cut, prevented them from planning ahead.

A report on consumer credit is also due Tuesday. Rising consumer credit is good for the economy as long as consumers are borrowing within their means. If credit levels rise too high, however, it means consumers are too leveraged, a situation that contributed the credit crisis of 2008.

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The Mortgage Bankers Association releases purchase applications data on Wednesday. The data measures applications with mortgage lenders and sheds light on housing sales and construction. The index is expected to move higher as demand for homes has picked up in recent months.

On Friday data on import and export prices is set for release. The numbers measure the prices of goods flowing in and out of the U.S. and provide a gauge on inflation. The Federal Reserve has said it is eyeing inflation after four years of historically low interest rates and other easy money policies, but that economic growth and jobs remains the top priority of its fiscal strategies.