May 15, 2015 / 7:34 PM / in 3 years

REFILE-What to Watch in the Week Ahead and on Monday, May 18

(Refiles to remove “on Tuesday” from last item.)

A speech on Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen headlines a week in which a handful of U.S. central bankers will dissect the latest string of weak economic data and offer views on when to raise rates. Speaking in Providence, RI, Yellen will address the economic outlook at 1300 ET (1700 GMT), when investors will be listening for any hint of a downgrade that could signal a later policy tightening. Minutes of the Fed’s April meeting are published Wednesday, followed on Thursday by a New York Fed survey of primary dealers, both of which could shed light on what is driving decision-making at the central bank as it approaches a rate hike, probably later this year. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans visits Sweden and Germany on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, to talk about policy, while John Williams of the San Francisco Fed gives a talk Thursday. Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer will discuss challenges for the euro area on Thursday in Portugal.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, reports first-quarter results before markets open on Tuesday. Analysts expect the Dow component to beat profit and sales estimates for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Dow component Home Depot Inc also reports first-quarter results on the same day.

Housing data takes center stage next week and could shed more clues on the speed of the economy’s recovery from the first quarter’s slump. On Tuesday, Commerce Department data is expected to show housing starts rose to a 1.02 million-unit pace in April from a 926,000-unit rate in March. On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors is likely to report that existing home sales increased to a 5.24 million-unit rate in April from a 5.17 million-unit pace in March. Labor Department data on Friday is expected to show very mild inflation pressures. The consumer price index is forecast nudging up 0.1 percent in April after rising 0.2 percent in March. The core CPI, which excludes energy and food, is expected to rise 0.2 percent after a similar gain in March.

Apparel retailer Gap Inc is expected to report a fall in first-quarter profit on Thursday, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Gap has reported a fall in first-quarter revenue and comparable sales, mainly due to falling sales at its Gap and Banana Republic brands, a stronger dollar, and supply disruptions at West Coast ports. To revive sales and offset the slump in demand for its other major clothing lines, Gap has been focusing on its biggest brand, Old Navy, which has clothes aimed at younger customers sold at a lower price point than its other brands. Investors will look for updates on efforts to revive sales at the Gap brand, second-quarter forecast, and color on performing categories.

Hewlett-Packard Co, the world’s No. 2 PC maker, reports second-quarter results on Thursday. The company reported flat or lower revenue in all of its operating units in the first quarter.

Office supplies retailer Staples Inc is expected to report first-quarter profit and sales above the average analyst estimate on Wednesday, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. However, Staples is also expected to report a fall in sales from a year earlier, which would be the ninth straight decline in quarterly sales. The company had blamed the stronger dollar for the sales decrease in the prior quarter and investors will be looking for details of whether currency will continue to affect the company. Investors will also be looking ahead for comments on the Office Depot merger, particularly on acquisition expenses.

Retailer Target Corp reports first-quarter results before markets open on Wednesday. In March, the company said it would eliminate several thousand jobs, mainly from its headquarters in the United States and India, as it aims to cut $2 billion in costs over two years. On Thursday, electronics retailer Best Buy Co Inc reports first-quarter results before the bell. The company in March announced plans to close some stores and consolidate its operations in Canada, its second-largest market.

Off-price retailer TJX Cos Inc is expected to report first-quarter profit and sales largely in line with analyst expectations on Tuesday, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Customer traffic to TJX’s stores has risen in the past few quarters due to low prices, expanded brand offerings and trendy merchandise. The company has also benefited from the supply shortfall caused at most specialty retailers due to the West Coast port disruptions. Investors will look for the second-quarter forecast, an update to the full-year outlook, and comments on foreign exchange.

On Wednesday, teen apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc is expected to report first-quarter profit and revenue above estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Unlike other mall-based teen retailers, American Eagle’s trendy and fashionable merchandise has clicked with teenagers, helping the company grow sales and margins and minimize discounts. Analysts say the company’s spring and summer fashion assortments are on track, resonating with customers, and bode well for the company in the back-to-school shopping season. Investors will look for second-quarter and full-year forecasts and comments on the industry.

Struggling teen apparel retailer Aeropostale Inc is expected to report first-quarter results above the average analyst estimate on Thursday, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Aeropostale has been actively controlling inventory and chasing trends to improve sales, but weak demand for its core offerings and delays in shipments of spring and summer merchandise are expected to hurt the company’s sales. Analysts say the retailer’s fashion assortment is more or less in line with current trends, but do not expect Aeropostale to return to growth before the back-to-school shopping season. Investors will look for the second-quarter forecast, additional color on the turnaround and comments on the industry. Inc, which is reportedly fielding takeover offers after being approached by a potential buyer, is expected to report a first-quarter profit above estimates on Wednesday, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Businesses are increasingly moving toward cloud software services that cost less and are easier to manage, which is expected to help the company post higher revenue. Investors will look for commentary on any takeover offers and for growth in the company’s subscription and support revenue, which accounts for 93 percent of total revenue.

On Tuesday, software maker Autodesk Inc is expected to report a first-quarter profit above estimates, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Autodesk is moving to a cloud-based subscription model from a license-based business, which is boosting the company’s revenue from subscriptions, which in turn bring in more recurring revenue.

Meat products maker Hormel Foods Corp warned last month that the impact of avian influenza may drag its full-year profit toward the lower end of its forecast range due to tight turkey supply for its Jennie-O Turkey Store business. The company also temporarily laid off 233 workers at a Minnesota plant of the Jennie-O business, which accounts for about 18 percent of its revenue. When the company reports second-quarter results on Wednesday, investors will be looking for updates on any further impact from bird flu and changes to its outlook.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc holds its annual general meeting on Tuesday. Valeant CEO Mike Pearson will be asked if the fast-growing pharmaceutical company plans yet another acquisition. Despite failing to acquire Botox-maker Allergan Inc last year, Valeant beat out Endo International Plc in March, following a bidding war to acquire Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc.

On Wednesday, mortgage research firm Black Knight Financial Services Inc is expected to raise about $425 million at the top end of the expected price range of $22-$25 per share. On Thursday, China’s Baozun Inc, in which Alibaba owns a sizable stake, is expected to raise about $129 million, valuing the e-commerce services company at about $632 million. The company, which says it has a fifth of China’s e-commerce solutions market, intends to reinvest most of the initial public offering proceeds in its marketing and R&D operations, but has also hinted at plans to make acquisitions. On the same day, Canadian e-commerce software maker Shopify is expected to raise as much as $108 million in its IPO, valuing the company at up to $1 billion. The Ottawa-based company plans to list in both Canada and the United States.

On Wednesday, Satistics Canada is expected to report wholesale trade increased 0.7 percent in March after unexpectedly falling 0.4 percent in February. Statistics Canada on Friday releases inflation data for April. Analysts expect an annual inflation rate of 1.0 percent in the month after it rose to 1.2 percent in March. On the same day, data from Statistics Canada is expected to show retail sales rose 0.3 percent in March after increasing 1.7 percent in February.

On Tuesday, Mexico’s central bank will release its quarterly inflation report when it is expected to revise growth expectations for the year. On Thursday, gross domestic product data will be released for the first quarter of 2015, after growth notched 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. Economic activity data for March will also be released the same day after the seasonally adjusted figure was flat in February as farming output contracted and industry ticked up slightly. On Friday, the National Statistics Institute will release inflation data for the first half of May after inflation cooled in the full month of April to 3.03 percent, just above the central bank’s 3 percent target.


Apparel company Urban Outfitters Inc is expected to report a second straight rise in comparable sales after a year of declines, driven by a recovery at its largest Urban Outfitters brand and strong demand for its Free People line of clothing. Urban Outfitters’ sales have also benefited from investments in its online and mobile platforms, as well as from efforts to tightly control inventory and discounts. When the company reports first-quarter results, investors will look for updates to the full-year forecast, commentary on performance of the Urban Outfitters brand and expansion plans.

The National Association of Homebuilders is likely to report that its homebuilders confidence index ticked up to 57 in May from 56 in April.

Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, best known for its “Grand Theft Auto” franchise, is expected to post a fourth-quarter profit above the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. Take-Two is expected to benefit from sales of games such as Evolve and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. Investors will be looking for comments on the forecast, including how the PC release of “Grand Theft Auto V” will boost Take-Two’s revenue.

LIVE CHAT: An outlook for bond markets as the Fed gears up for lift-off with D.A. Davidson Fixed Income specialist Mary Ann Hurley Is June off the table? Mary Ann Hurley joins the Global Markets Forum at 1230 ET (1630 GMT) to discuss U.S. bonds and appetite for risk as the Fed prepares to ignite lift-off with a rise in interest rates in the coming months - depending on the data. Retail sales data was hardly ringing any inflation alarms and though the April jobs data was in line with economists' expectations, economists at the Fed hunger for data before risking derailing a sedate, six-year long economic recovery. To join the conversation, click here (Compiled by Ayesha Sruti Ahmed in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)

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