Wall St The Week Ahead: Big banks will set pace in new earnings round

AFTER the S&P 500’s impressive 30 per cent return in 2013, Wall Street will get a better picture of reality this week as the pace picks up for companies reporting earnings.

A number of big banks are due to report quarterly and full-year results, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo tomorrow, Bank of America on Wednesday, Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup on Thursday, and Morgan Stanley on Friday.

Their results will help determine whether earnings forecasts for 2014 need to come down and whether stock values have become overblown.

Investors may get a better sense of how quickly the central bank will reduce its market-friendly bond purchases from a number of Federal Reserve officials due to speak this week. A much weaker-than-expected December payrolls report on Friday raised new questions about both the strength of the economy and the aggressiveness of Fed stimulus.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart is scheduled to speak at events today and on Wednesday, while Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is set to speak on Thursday. The Fed’s Beige Book is due on Wednesday.

A batch of December data will come out this week, with retail sales tomorrow, the US Producer Price Index on Wednesday, the US Consumer Price Index on Thursday and housing starts on Friday.

Among other earnings to watch this week are General Electric on Friday and American Express, which releases its fourth quarter figures on Thursday.