Financial Reform, BP Remain Hot Topics on Wall Street

As a new week starts, with the month of June already half-way through, analysts believe that US markets will face some tough challenges as investors remain cautious about the state of the global economy and its spin-off effect on US markets. On the home front, a number of economic reports are due through the week, and investors are mindful of the fact that the end of the second quarter of 2010 is fast approaching. Also under consideration, is the appeal by President Barack Obama to congressional leaders to approve an $80 billion proposal for extended unemployment benefits and tax breaks, as well as facilitating easier access to credit for small businesses. The letter from the President to the leaders of the House and Senate also reportedly sought support for a proposal to assist state and local government departments, thereby preventing layoffs and resultant service reductions. It is anticipated that these measures, if approved, will encourage consumer spending, which is a major driving force behind economic recovery.

BP remains in the spotlight, with widespread boycotting of its franchise-owned service stations causing concern among owners and employees alike. What protestors are often not aware of is that due to the way crude oil is refined and shipped, the gasoline at a BP service station does not necessarily originate from a BP drilling site and the gasoline sold at a rival service station may very well have been extracted from the ground by BP. However, the message is clear and pressure is mounting from all sides for BP to clean up its act.

Another issue which remains at the forefront of investor psyche is the debate in Washington regarding Wall Street reform, which addresses a number of proposed changes, including additional measures to curb risk taking, the protection of consumers and steps to be taken to prevent financial firms from becoming too-big-to-fail.

With regard to potential market moving reports in the week ahead, investors will no doubt be interested in the quarterly results of electronics giant Best Buy due out on Tuesday, as well as the report of manufacturing activity in New York to be released before Tuesday’s opening bell. Tuesday also sees the release of the Treasury Department’s report on foreign purchase of United States debt. Wednesday starts off with housing starts and building permits statistics, with the producer price index later in the day expected to show that prices fell by 0.4 percent in May, while excluding energy prices it is estimated that producer prices are likely to have risen 0.1 percent. Fedex will be releasing its quarterly results on Wednesday morning, and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will be addressing an audience in New York on issues relating to proposed financial reform. Thursday features the weekly jobless claims report, the consumer price index and core CPI figures. And BP CEO Tony Hayward testifies before a House committee regarding the ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. The week ends with a report from the Labor Department on Friday regarding state unemployment levels.