Business on Wall Street Continues in Wake of Irene

Despite the fury of Hurricane Irene battering New York over the weekend, leaving a trail of destruction, transport systems disrupted and approximately four million people without power, Wall Street plans to operate as usual on Monday. While expecting trading volumes to be light as the week begins, insurance stocks may get more than the usual attention as storm damage claims start to roll in. Companies in the spotlight this week include MetLife (NYSE:MET), Chubb Corporation (NYSE:CB), and Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL).

During his much anticipated keynote speech at the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s retreat at Jackson Hole on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did not confirm speculation that another round of quantitative easing was in the pipeline. While cautioning listeners that the powers of the Federal Reserve have limits, he noted that the central bank will do everything it can to add impetus to US economic recovery. Markets rallied somewhat following Bernanke’s speech and investors remain hopeful that the Fed’s two-day policy meeting in September will yield some positive plans to move forward.

Into the week ahead, the debt crisis in Europe remains a cause for concern, and there is speculation that gas prices will rise sharply as a result of Hurricane Irene. Ahead of the opening bell on Monday, investors will receive personal income and spending statistics for July which economists anticipate will rise 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent respectively. June’s home sales figures are also due on Monday and are expected to drop 1.4 percent. Tuesday sees the release of June’s 20-city Case-Schiller index before the opening bell. Also before the opening bell on Tuesday, investors will receive second quarter results from Dollar General (NYSE:DG) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS).

Wednesday starts off with publication of the private employment report from ADP, with economists expecting the figures to reveal the private sector hired 100,000 new workers in August, representing a drop of 4,000 from July. The Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index with analysts anticipating a fall to 53.1. June’s factory orders are expected to have fallen 1 percent, and this may be confirmed on the release of June factory orders by the Commerce Department on Wednesday morning. Investors will no doubt be intensely interested in the initial jobless claims data from the Labor Department on Thursday morning. Economists expect claims to have dropped from 417,000 last week to 408,000. Also on Thursday, is the release of August’s supply management manufacturing index and construction spending data from the Commerce Department.

The week draws to a close with the Labor Department‘s jobs report for August to be released on Friday, where it is likely that the unemployment rate will remain at 9.1 percent. Corporate quarterly results are due from Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB).