2010’s First Quarter Results Remain Under Spotlight

The trickle of first quarter results released last week is set to gain momentum in the week ahead as 123 companies, representing around 25 percent of the S&P 500, make their results known. Last week’s results from Intel, Google, Bank of America, General Electric and JP Morgan Chase, turned out to be better than expected, sparking a wave of optimism that this positive trend will continue in the weeks ahead. Companies expected to take the lion’s share of attention include IBM, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Apple and Goldman Sachs – the financial powerhouse currently facing fraud charges relating to real estate securities and involving investor losses of up to $1 billion.

On the economic front, Monday sees the release of the LEI – leading economic indicators – for March soon after stock market trade opens. As per a survey conducted by Briefing.com, expectations are that LEI will have risen 1 percent, as compared to the 0.1 percent experienced in the previous month. US Federal Reserve Board Governor Elizabeth Duke will be speaking on Monday. Known for promoting the concept of financial education in America’s school system, Duke has expressed concern over the persistent weak lending trend being experienced by banks. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is also due to speak on Monday.

Tuesday will be a quiet day with regard to economic reporting, and Wednesday will see the release of the government’s weekly crude oil inventory report. With the Department of Labor‘s new claims for unemployment on Wednesday, it is expected that the number will have dropped to 455,000 for last week as compared to the 484,000 in the week before. It is also expected that continuing claims – being the number of US citizens receiving benefits for more than a week – will have fallen from 4,639,000 to 4,600,000. Other reports due out on Thursday include February’s existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors, and the FHFA Home Price index for February. The PPI – Producer Price Index – for March is expected to have risen 0.5 percent, with the core-PPI rising 0.6 percent.

On Friday, investors can examine the Commerce Department’s March durable goods orders, which are expected to have risen 0.2 percent, and the excluding autos figure reflecting an increase of 0.6 percent. The new home sales report from the government will be out on Friday morning, with sales expected to have risen to an annualized rate of 325,000 for March.