WALL ST THE WEEK AHEAD

THE trend of better-than-expected earnings will be put to the test this week when investors hope Apple can exceed already high expectations and Facebook reports its first quarterly earnings.

Apple accounts for a significant proportion of the overall earnings of Standard & Poor’s 500 components. S&P 500 earnings are expected to show a rise of 5.7 per cent in the second quarter from a year ago. Excluding the maker of the iPad, the rise is 4.8 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Apple’s results, due tomorrow, could help stocks build on last week’s gains and counter investor worries over the Eurozone crisis. More signs of financial stress in Spain on Friday caused stocks to give back some of the week’s increase. The S&P 500 ended 0.4 per cent higher last week.

Apple’s expected strong performance is mainly why technology earnings growth has held up better than other S&P 500 sectors. The expected growth rate for the sector has gone from 6.9 per cent in April to 8.7 per cent as of Friday, the data showed.

Apple’s earnings for the quarter are seen at $10.38 a share, which includes estimates from 43 analysts. That compares with a profit of $7.79 a share for the year-ago quarter.

Investors are likely to be just as keen to hear from Facebook when it reports on Thursday. Facebook’s first results following its market debut could give investors another chance to indicate how they feel about the stock since its disappointing initial public offering.

Shares of Facebook, one of the most closely watched IPOs ever, lost ground after technical problems with its market debut on Nasdaq and as investors questioned its ability to rapidly increase advertising revenue. Analysts said an earnings miss by Facebook could be disastrous for the stock, which closed Friday at $28.76, below its $38 offering price.

Tech results also will be closely watched for signs of weak demand overseas, particularly from Europe.

Other technology companies expected to report this week include Texas Instruments and Amazon.

Among the other 138 S&P 500 companies reporting earnings are Ford Motors, United Parcel Service and Whirlpool.