Investors keen to see if retail up after oil hit - The week ahead on Wall St

INVESTORS hope the lower gasoline cost is putting more money in consumers’ wallets for spending on apparel and other retail goods. The next two weeks will indicate whether that’s happening.

The coming weeks, as the fourth-quarter earnings season gets underway, are among the more active periods of the year for retailers to issue earnings pre-announcements. The fourth quarter includes the crucial holiday shopping season.

An industry conference, the ICR Xchange in Orlando, Florida, which starts today, is a particular area of focus. Analysts expect companies presenting at the conference ­– which include Lululemon Athletica, Big Lots and Guess – to shine a light on holiday trends and discuss business expectations for 2015, and in some cases update their outlooks.

The early indications have been supportive, with a number of retailers reporting strong December sales last week. JC Penney, American Eagle Outfitters and Aeropostale all had strong results, though Macy’s disappointed.

This week Alcoa is due to report today and a slew of banks will follow. JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are due to report on Wednesday, Bank of America, BlackRock and Citigroup will give figures on Thursday and Comerica, Goldman Sachs and SunTrust Banks will update the market on Friday.

Economic news includes retail sales figures and the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book.

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