WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD

Earnings could make for a bumpy ride in US stocks this week if more key companies undershoot expectations, possibly causing a spike in volatility.

Disappointments from Alcoa, Google and others in the first week of earnings have dampened some of the enthusiasm about results, ensuring that eyes will be glued to reports in the coming days.

These include top technology and financial company results, including Yahoo, Intel, IBM, Texas Instruments, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. This blitz of numbers will come during a holiday-shortened week. US financial markets will close on Good Friday.

Market watchers also will be anxious to hear how much tech companies may have been affected by the disaster in Japan.

“We’ve all been lulled to sleep here lately. This earnings season will hopefully be a telling point to try to give people conviction to go one way or the other,” said Mike Gibbs, managing director at Morgan Keegan, Memphis. “There are potential land mines out there that could create a bit more volatile trading,” he said.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a barometer of investor anxiety known as the VIX, briefly fell on Friday to its lowest level since July 2007. It ended at 15.32, well below its mid-March high of 31.28.

Others agreed that further disappointments could stir up volatility.

For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.3 per cent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index each shed 0.6 per cent.