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Investors Await Retail Data, Economic Reports

From Reuters

Investors are about to get clues as to whether the bull market has enough power to drive gains to the end of the year.

Equities have been on a tear since President Bush was reelected with no contested balloting. The bull’s momentum could extend into this week, depending on the geopolitical aftershocks of Yasser Arafat’s death, particularly the effect on crude oil prices. Earnings from a few corporate big shots and a lot of retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., also will set the tone for the week.

Reports on the economy’s health also will pour in, with the latest reading on inflation, data on factory activity and leading economic indicators.

“It will be important to see if the market follows the breakout strength of the last week and a half,” said Charles Blood, an equity strategist at Brown Bros. Harriman. “It ought to be able to hold its own and make some progress.”

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Added Tom McIntyre, chief portfolio manager at McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn: “The market doesn’t want to go down.... I think money is going to get put to work between now and the end of the year.”

From Reuters

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This Week’s Datebook

Today

* Lowe’s Cos. releases third-quarter earnings.

* Tyson Foods Inc. releases fourth-quarter earnings.

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Tuesday

* Labor Department reports October producer price index.

* Third-quarter earnings released by Borders Group Inc., Home Depot Inc., J.C. Penney Co., Staples Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores.

* Hewlett-Packard Co. releases fourth-quarter earnings.

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Wednesday

* Treasury Department reports on federal budget for October.

* Commerce Department reports on October housing starts.

* Labor Department reports on the consumer price index for October.

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* Federal Reserve reports on industrial production for October.

* Medtronic Inc. releases second-quarter earnings.

Thursday

* Labor Department reports on weekly jobless claims.

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* Freddie Mac reports on mortgage rates.

* Conference Board reports its leading economic indicators index for October.

* Barnes & Noble Inc., Gap Inc. and Limited Brands Inc. release third-quarter earnings.

* Walt Disney Co. releases fourth-quarter earnings.

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Friday

* J.M. Smucker Co. releases second-quarter earnings.

* Foot Locker Inc. releases third-quarter earnings.


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