updated 10/29/2006 4:28:26 PM ET 2006-10-29T21:28:26

Wall Street will get an avalanche of economic data this week that should give investors a better glimpse about the economy’s direction, including closely watched consumer confidence and unemployment numbers.

Major Market Indices

Investors are looking for any economic indicators that might help propel a three-month rally that has driven blue chips to record highs. On Friday, a government report on gross domestic product indicated the economy might be slowing down too fast.

The market might also get a reprieve from whatever economic news awaits. The continuation of robust earnings reports this week could help assuage fears about the economy, with companies such as United States Steel Corp. Verizon Communications Inc., and Procter & Gamble Co. on deck to post results.

The markets might also bounce around as investors get a better feel for which way the 2006 mid-term elections will go. Voters on Nov. 7 are seen favoring the Democrats over Republican challengers in several key battleground states, and could tip the balance in Congress.

Economic data
On Monday, the Department of Commerce will release its personal income and personal spending data for September. The pair of reports will give Wall Street a better glimpse at how Americans are spending their money, and how much cash they’re putting in the bank.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence report on Tuesday could push stocks higher. The report highlights how consumers feel about buying household goods.

Auto and truck sales reports might also give further details about consumer spending when manufacturers release individual reports on Wednesday. The Institute for Supply Management issues its report on corporate purchasing that day as well.

Employment figures will also dominate Wall Street’s mood next week. The Labor Department releases its initial jobless claims report on Wednesday, and nonfarm payrolls and unemployment numbers on Thursday.

Earnings data
On Monday, Verizon is expected to report a profit of 66 cents per share on $23.03 billion of revenue. The telecommunications company closed at $38.84, and has traded within a 52-week range of $30 to $38.85.

United States Steel headlines Tuesday, when it is expected to report a profit of $3.21 per share on $4.2 billion of revenue. The company’s stock closed at $68.74 on Friday, toward the upper end of its 52-week range of $34.96 to $77.77.

Also Tuesday, Procter & Gamble is slated to report a profit of 78 cents per share on $18.56 billion of revenue. The home products maker closed at $63.56 on Friday, and has traded between $52.75 and $63.74 within the past year.

Time Warner Inc. is slated to report a 21 cent per share profit on $11.09 billion of revenue on Wednesday. The entertainment and media company closed at $19.91 on Friday, toward the upper end of its 52-week range of $15.70 to $20.08.

Qualcomm Inc. will report earnings on Thursday, when it is expected to post a profit of 41 cents per share on $1.97 billion of sales. The wireless communications maker closed at $37.14 on Friday, near the bottom of its 52-week range of $32.76 to $53.01.

On Friday, the Washington Post Co. is projected to report a profit of $8.62 per share on $963.5 million. The media company closed at $751.80 on Friday, and has traded between $690 and $815 this year.

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