Wall Street looking to Wal-Mart

chart_ws_index_sp500.top.pngClick the chart for more market data. By Ken Sweet, contributing writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- With the G-20 conference wrapped up, investors this week will turn their attention to the all-important U.S. consumer -- as reports show how much they've been buying and how optimistic they are.

As Wal-Mart, Target and other retail giants report quarterly earnings this holiday-shortened week, investors will be closely watching to see how much Americans opened their wallets over the holiday shopping season and how the economy is faring.

If the big retailers disappoint, stocks could head downward, said Kevin Mahn, chief investment officer with Hennion & Walsh.

"I think we're well on our way in the economic recovery, but we need to see if those Americans who held jobs throughout the recession have stopped saving and started spending," said Mahn.

On the agenda

Monday: U.S. markets are closed in observance of the Presidents Day holiday. No economic or company earnings reports are scheduled to be released.

Tuesday: A flurry of retail earnings are due before the market open. Dow members Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) and Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) are expected to post modest gains from a year ago, with analysts forecasting $1.31 a share for the world's biggest retailer and 31 cents a share for the home-improvement chain.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble (BKS, Fortune 500) and department-store chain Macy's (M, Fortune 500) also will report.

Wall Street will get a gauge on the real estate market when Case-Shiller releases its home price index at 9 am ET.

The Conference Board will release its February consumer confidence report at 10 am ET. Economists expect it to rise slightly from January, to 67.0.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500) will report its earnings after the closing bell.

Wednesday: Before the opening bell, Home Depot rival Lowe's (LOW, Fortune 500), luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL) and department store Saks (SKS) are scheduled to report.

Next the spotlight turns to real estate, as the National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales numbers for January at 10 am. Existing home sales are expected to slip slightly, to 5.23 million units on an annualized basis.

Thursday: Weekly initial jobless claims will be released at 8:30 am, and are expected to be unchanged at 410,000. The Census Department's report on durable goods orders is due at the same time; orders are forecasted to rise 3%.

Earnings from Target (TGT, Fortune 500) and department store Kohl's (KSS, Fortune 500) are due before Thursday's opening bell. Analysts are looking for Target to post a profit of $1.40 per share, according to Briefing.com.

The Commerce Department issues its new home sales report at 10 am.

Friday: Wall Street will get a second reading on the U.S.'s fourth-quarter gross domestic product Friday. Economists expect GDP to come in slightly higher at 3.3% growth.

A final read of February's University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey also is on the docket. The index is expected to remain unchanged at 75.1.

JC Penney (JCP, Fortune 500) rounds out the retail-heavy week when it releases its quarterly results before the market open. Analysts are looking for the department store chain to earn $1.08 a share.  To top of page

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