Stocks brace for earnings deluge

October 16, 2011: 10:26 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- While Europe's debt crisis will remain a focus on Wall Street this week, investors will also have a barrage of corporate financial results to sift through as earnings season kicks into high gear.

The week ahead includes reports from nearly half of the Dow's 30 components, including Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500) and General Electric (GE, Fortune 500), and 96 members of the S&P 500 including, Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), Southwest Airlines (LUV, Fortune 500) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG).

S&P 500 company earnings are expected to have climbed 23% in the third quarter of 2011, according to earnings tracker Thomson Reuters. Revenues of the companies in the benchmark index are expected to have risen 10%.

Stocks posted stellar gains last week, with the S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) delivering their best weekly performances since 2009. They'll start the week at the high end of the range that they have been trading between since early August.

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Whether they'll be able to break above those levels will primarily depend on the health of and guidance from corporate America, said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at ING Investment Management.

"Earnings will determine the moves in the market," said Zemsky. "If companies aren't positive, we could see stocks continue to drift in the territory they've been in for two months. "

Zemsky said investors will pay especially close attention to companies with global footprints to get their take on the pace of worldwide economic growth, amid rising fears of a slowdown.

Financials will also attention, with results due from giants like Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500), US Bancorp (USB, Fortune 500), as well as some regional banks.

Europe: Many challenges remain

Investors will also continue to tune into news out of Europe. At a weekend meeting of G20 finance ministers in Paris, the finance chiefs pledged to "take all necessary actions" to ensure that banks "are adequately capitalized and have sufficient access to funding to deal with the current crisis."

But it will likely be a waiting game until the G20 meeting in Cannes in early November, during which European leaders are expected to unveil a "comprehensive plan" to address Europe's festering debt crisis.

Economic data will be sprinkled throughout the week, but will take a backseat to earnings and Europe news, said Zemsky. Reports on regional manufacturing and inflation are due early in the week, while readings on the housing and job markets are on tap for later. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,042.90 -28.32 -0.17%
Nasdaq 4,493.39 -12.46 -0.28%
S&P 500 1,972.29 -5.51 -0.28%
Treasuries 2.51 0.02 0.68%
Data as of 7:46pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 14.79 -0.32 -2.12%
Bank of America Corp... 17.05 0.04 0.24%
eBay Inc 56.63 3.97 7.54%
Apple Inc 100.75 0.64 0.64%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.20 0.79%
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