For U.S. stocks, earnings take center stage

Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:16pm EST
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By Angela Moon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After the S&P 500's impressive 30 percent return in 2013, Wall Street will get a better picture of reality next week as the pace of companies reporting earnings picks up.

A number of big banks are due to report their quarterly and full-year results next week, including JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N and Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N on Tuesday, Bank of America Corp BAC.N on Wednesday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N and Citigroup Inc C.N on Thursday, and Morgan Stanley MS.N on Friday.

Their results will help determine whether earnings forecasts for 2014 need to come down and whether stock values have become overblown.

"There isn't much left to happen to this market, in terms of the view of an expanding economy. It is generally agreed by everyone that the economy is improving. What isn't clear is whether earnings are improving at the same pace the market is. That's the next big test for equities," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Investors may get a better sense of how quickly the central bank will reduce its market-friendly bond purchases from a number of Federal Reserve officials due to speak next week. A much weaker-than-expected December payrolls report on Friday raised new questions about both the strength of the economy and the aggressiveness of Fed stimulus.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart is scheduled to speak at events on Monday and Wednesday, while Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to speak on Thursday.

The Fed's Beige Book is due on Wednesday.

A batch of December data will be released next week, with retail sales on Tuesday, the U.S. Producer Price Index on Wednesday, the U.S. Consumer Price Index on Thursday and housing starts on Friday. Another number to note on Friday will be the preliminary January reading on U.S. consumer sentiment from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange January 10, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid