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Keeping it positive
The Dow and S&P 500 have risen for 3 weeks in a row, the Nasdaq for 4. Have the clouds cleared?
November 13, 2005: 7:20 AM EST
By Alexandra Twin, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A quick survey: have the clouds over Wall Street cleared?

Three-Week Old Stock Market Advance: Why yes, it seems like it, and there's more room to run in the week ahead.

The Month of November: Yes, of course. In a mere two weeks, November has already done what October -- as is typical -- failed to do: Boost stocks. Not to brag, but November is the start of the six best months of the year, just ask the Stock Trader's Almanac.

Stock Market Analysts: Yes, for now, but there are plenty of clouds looming in 2006.

Specifically, the threat of slowing economic and earnings growth, continued higher interest rates and inflation, and the breaking down of a three-year old bull market.

But that's next year. Analysts say both technical indicators and market fundamentals suggest that stocks should be able to rise modestly through the end of this year, with a few caveats.

"It's going to be a bit of a struggle, but there's a seasonal bias that should prevail over the next few weeks," said Paul Rabbit, president of Rabbit Analytics.

"The momentum seems to have turned lately," he added, "oil seems to have peaked, and I think that there can be a case made that stock valuations are compelling at this level."

Stock investors seem to have been of this mind set over the last three weeks, during which the S&P 500 managed to gain nearly 5 percent. Analysts said the gain was fueled by falling oil prices, some so-called "bargain hunting" after October's selloff, and relief that the economy thrived in the third quarter, despite rising interest rates and two massive hurricanes.

The advance was also built on the back of surprisingly good third-quarter earnings. In fact, throughout 2005, S&P 500 earnings growth has failed to show the pronounced slowdown some had feared. (For an outlook on earnings growth in 2006, click here.)

These factors should remain supportive in the weeks ahead.

Wal-Mart, HP and a guy named Ben

Although most of the third-quarter earnings have already been reported, next week brings a number of potentially market-moving reports.

A slew of retailers are due to report, including Home Depot (Research) and rival Lowe's (Research), JC Penney (Research), Staples (Research), Gap (Research) and no. 1 retailer Wal-Mart (Research).

What the retailers have to say about the holiday shopping season will be particularly relevant to a market worried about slowing consumer spending in response to higher gas and heating bills.

Other companies reporting include tech leaders Applied Materials (Research) and Hewlett-Packard (Research), as well as Walt Disney (Research). (For a preview of next week's earnings, click here.)

The week ahead also brings reads on manufacturing, retail sales and pricing pressure at both the wholesale and consumer level. Fed chair nominee Ben Bernanke also goes before Congress. (For a preview of these events, click here.)

"When all is said and done, I think the market will sprint higher toward the end of the year," said James Awad, president of Awad Asset Management. "But it's going to take continued encouraging earnings and economic reports to move it along."

Next week's key earnings

  • Monday: Lowe's is expected to have earned 77 cents per share, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by earnings tracker First Call, versus 66 cents a year ago; Wal-Mart Stores is expected to have earned 58 cents per share versus 54 cents a year ago.
  • Tuesday: Home Depot is expected to have earned 68 cents per share, versus 60 cents a year ago.
  • Wednesday: Applied Materials is expected to have earned 14 cents per share, versus 27 cents a year ago.
  • Thursday: Hewlett-Packard is expected to have earned 46 cents per share, versus 41 cents a year ago; Walt Disney is expected to have earned 18 cents per share, versus 19 cents a year ago.

Other key events

  • On Tuesday, Federal Reserve chairman nominee Ben Bernanke appears before the Senate Banking Committee to begin what is expected to be a straightforward confirmation process.
  • On Tuesday, the New York Empire State index is due. The read on manufacturing in the New York area is expected to have risen to 15.0 in November from 12.1 in October, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by
  • October retail sales, due Tuesday, are expected to have fallen 0.6 percent, according to forecasts, after rising 0.2 percent in September. Sales excluding the volatile autos component are expected to have risen 0.3 percent in the month, after rising 1.1 percent in September.
  • The Producer Price index (PPI), due Tuesday is expected to have risen 0.1 percent in October after rising 1.9 percent in September; so-called "core" PPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is expected to have risen 0.2 percent after rising 0.3 percent in September.
  • The Consumer Price index (CPI), due Wednesday, is expected to have risen 0.1 percent in October, according to estimates. CPI rose 1.2 percent in September. The "core" CPI is expected to have risen 0.2 percent in the month after rising 0.1 percent in September.
  • October housing starts, due Thursday, are expected to have fallen to a 2.06 million unit annual rate from a 2.108 million unit rate in September. Building permits are expected to have fallen to a 2.146 million unit annual rate in October from a 2.219 million unit rate in the previous month.
  • The Philadelphia Fed index, a regional read on manufacturing, is expected to have fallen to 16.3 in November from 17.3 in October.
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