Investors Face Lean Week Ahead

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to deliver his keynote speech on Friday at the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual retreat, and with fears that the economy is heading for a downturn dominating Wall Street, investors are reportedly keen to hear what solutions he may offer. It was this time last year that the Fed offered up a second round of Quantitative Easing, referred to as QE2, as the solution to the economic downturn at the time. This measure was implemented shortly after, but proved not to be the answer to the problem – at least not the cure-all answer.

Since then, the economy has suffered the blow of a credit downgrade by Standard & Poor’s, and despite the call to investors to look at the downgrade as an opinion from one of a number of credit rating agencies, along with calls to question the influence and power of CRAs, the downgrade has had a negative impact on markets. Amidst speculation that QE3 may be offered as a solution, or that the Fed will consider the stated plan of holding near-zero interest rates for two years to be sufficient, investors are clinging to the life raft of hope that Bernanke will offer some clear leadership going into the future and calm the troubled waters. Continued concerns about the economic health of European countries only serves to add to the level of stress and uncertainty being experienced by Wall Street players at present.

There’s a slow start to the week on Wall Street, with the first economic report being the Commerce Department’s new home sales report on Tuesday morning. Analysts anticipate a decline from the 312,000 reported in June to 310,000 for July. HJ Heinz will report second quarter results before opening bell on Tuesday. Wednesday sees results from Applied Materials, as well as the durable goods report for July from the Commerce Department, with analysts forecasting an increase from Junes 1.9 percent to two percent for July. Thursday sees the Labor Department releasing jobless claims figures and the draws to a close with the much anticipated keynote address by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at the Kansas City Federal Reserve retreat. Also on Friday, investors will be considering the consumer sentiment survey from the University of Michigan, and the Commerce Department’s second reading on second quarter GDP.