New York Report: Strong US auto sales set to lift retail figures

RETAIL sales figures are the most keenly-awaited data this week. The Commerce Department is expected to report on Friday that they increased 0.6 per cent in August, driven by robust automobile sales, after being flat in July.

Core retail sales, a gauge of consumer spending, are expected to have risen 0.3 per cent after July’s 0.1 per cent gain. Weekly jobless claims data on Thursday will be watched for confirmation that a sharp slowdown in job growth in August was an aberration.

The three-day Barclays Global Financial Services Conference, which begins today, is scheduled to have JP Morgan Chase chief financial officer Marianne Lake speaking tomorrow. She is likely to give an early indication of the biggest US bank’s third-quarter results when she speaks. Wells Fargo CFO John Shrewsberry and Bank of America CFO Bruce Thompson speak on Wednesday. Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest US bank, has previously used the occasion to give a glimpse of its third-quarter earnings and this will be the first time an executive from the Bank of America will speak publicly following the bank’s $16.65bn settlement with the US government.

Food costs will be in focus when Kroger, the biggest US supermarket operator, reports first-quarter results on Thursday. The company has been outperforming rivals and giving Wal-Mart Stores, which sells more groceries than any other retailer, a run for its money.

Other firms reporting this week include Radioshack, Barnes & Noble, and Palo Alto Networks.