Consumer Activity under the Spotlight in Coming Weeks

The market has experienced two weeks of gains and investors are no doubt hopeful that the trend will continue into the coming week as they anticipate the release of a round of economic reports. The week starts off with October’s retail sales report from the government being released before the opening bell. Analysts are predicting a rise of 0.9 percent for last month, following the 1.5 percent drop experienced in September. Midday on Monday sees Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke delivering a speech on the US economic outlook at New York’s Economic Club, where he is likely to reiterate that interest rates will remain low for some time to come.

Tuesday sees the release of the government’s producer price index, as well as figures on capacity utilization and industrial production. Quarterly financial results are expected from Fortune 500 companies Home Depot, Target and TJX Companies. Wednesday focuses on housing starts and building permits in the housing market, with the US government inflation gauge set to reveal October’s results. On Thursday, the Labor Department will make known the number of Americans filing new unemployment benefit claims. Fortune 500 companies reporting quarterly earnings on Thursday include Sears Holdings, Hewlett Packard and Gap.