Here come the retailers. After a string of positive consumer data showing confidence at a five-year high and decent same-store sales in October, many of our nation's top retail chains are set to report third-quarter earnings results this week. Forecasts from retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are arguably the best gauges of consumer strength now and the jam packed earnings lineup is sure to bring more clarity moving forward.
Consumers opened their wallets last year, spending an average 3.3% more on household expenditures than they did in 2010, according to federal data released Tuesday. It was the first yearly increase since 2008, the height of the Great Recession.
Overall, average annual spending rose to $49,705.
The European Central Bank agreed on Thursday to launch a new and potentially unlimited bond-buying program to lower struggling euro zone countries' borrowing costs and draw a line under the debt crisis.
Seeking to back up his July pledge to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, ECB President Mario Draghi said the new plan, aimed at the secondary market, would address bond market distortions and "unfounded" fears of investors about the survival of the euro.
Wall Street Week Ahead: S&P to fly after wild ride to Wyoming
The streak is over, but is the trend intact?
A six-week string of gains in the S&P 500 (^GSPC) ended on Friday amid shifting expectations for central bank stimulus. This week could bring clarity on that issue, and that could determine whether the recent rally that took the index to four-year highs will persist.
Quarterly earnings: Not that great, about to get worse
If you were to sum up the key theme emerging from second quarter earnings season with one phrase, it'd have to be: "It's the revenue, stupid!"
That's because compared to earnings, which have been seen 72% of companies beating consensus, the sales side has been a huge disappointment.
First Decline in Earnings since Third Quarter 2009
It's ugly out there and it could get worse.
Dismal U.S. corporate outlooks and worries about slower worldwide growth have pushed third-quarter earnings estimates into negative territory, which, if it came to pass, would be the first drop in three years.
Third-quarter earnings of Standard & Poor's 500 (^GSPC) companies are now expected to fall 0.1 percent from a year ago, a sharp revision from the July 1 forecast of 3.1 percent growth, Thomson Reuters data showed on Thursday.