By Nathalie Tadena
Earnings from the retail segment will continue next week, with results due from giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Target Corp. (>> Target Corporation).
Social networking giant Facebook Inc. will begin trading Friday, in a highly anticipated deal that would make Facebook the most valuable U.S. technology company at the time of an initial public offering.
The National Association of Home Builders will release its May housing market index on Tuesday, while the U.S. government will release housing starts data for April on Wednesday, providing more information about the housing sector's sluggish recovery.
Quarterly Earnings Due From Wal-Mart, Retailers
A parade of retailers will report their latest quarterly results next week, including Wal-Mart, Target, Saks Inc. (>> Saks Inc), Gap Inc. (>> The Gap Inc.) and J.C. Penny Co. (>> J.C. Penney Company, Inc.).
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Wal-Mart, Target and Saks to report single-digit profit gains on a percentage basis. Gap has already issued an upbeat fiscal first-quarter earnings forecast and has said its spring products continued to perform well across all brands.
Meanwhile, Penney is expected to swing to a first-quarter loss as the department store operator continues to revamp its operations. Penney is in the midst of trying to reinvent itself under new Chief Executive Ron Johnson, who came to the company from Apple Inc. (AAPL), going from a very promotional department store to one that relies largely on single prices and offering numerous "stores within stores."
Facebook To Debut Next Week
Social networking site Facebook is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq next Friday under the symbol "FB." The company last week set a price range for its shares at $28 to $35 a piece, targeting a valuation as rich as $96 billion that would top rival Google Inc.'s (GOOG) 2004 IPO. Google holds the record for the largest U.S. Internet IPO by raising $1.9 billion at a valuation of $23 billion.
Facebook executives have been pitching the company to big investors in an IPO roadshow since Monday.
Wall Street analysts have been overwhelmingly bullish in their early analysis of Facebook. However as questions about the company's prospects linger ahead of its public debut, Facebook revealed in a regulatory filing Wednesday that ad revenue isn't keeping up with user growth because it has limited ads on its mobile site.
Housing Data, Consumer Price Report Due
The National Association of Home Builders will release its May housing market index on Tuesday. U.S. home builders' confidence in the housing market slipped in April for the first time in seven months, as consumers didn't go ahead with purchases despite having shown more interest of late.
The U.S. government will report housing starts and building permits data for April on Wednesday. U.S. home building declined in March but new permits reached their highest level since September 2008, showing the sector is struggling even as builders anticipate future demand.
The U.S. Department of Labor will also release data on April consumer prices on Tuesday. U.S. consumer prices eased a bit in March, as much tamer energy costs hinted at lighter inflation pressures heading into the spring.
AMR Unions Get Their Day In Court
The unions representing thousands of American Airlines flight attendants, pilots and other workers will spend next week arguing against the airline's move to terminate their labor contracts.
American's parent, AMR Corp. (>> AMR Corporation), had its say in the first part of a bankruptcy-court trial last month, which broke for several weeks to give parties time to attempt to negotiate a compromise.
The flight attendants' and pilots' unions on Friday planned to deliver no-confidence petitions to AMR management in Texas as well to rally outside the Manhattan bankruptcy court in protest of the proposed termination of their labor contracts.
If the unions' public comments or witness questions at the first part of the trial are any indication, their case will probably be heavy on endorsing an AMR merger with suitor US Airways Group Inc. (LCC), which the unions have said has offered more generous terms than what AMR wants to impose.
AMR is trying to cut $1.25 billion in annual labor costs, with about $990 million to come from union concessions.
EU Ministers To Discuss Spain, Greece At Meeting Monday
European Union finance ministers are set for a highly sensitive monthly meeting in Brussels on Monday in the wake of forecasts which show the divergent prospects for the bloc's economies, including some member states deviating from their planned budget reduction path.
"It'll be a very political Eurogroup meeting, short on details and long on politics," a senior EU official said of the agenda. "Spain will be the focus of much attention, and the situation is moving very fast there."
Greece will also be discussed as politicians seek to form a coalition government in the wake of elections there.
G-8 Leaders To Meet At Camp David
U.S. President Barack Obama will host the Group of Eight summit at Camp David May 18-19. The G-8 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.
Newly-inaugurated Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will miss the upcoming summit as he is busy forming a government but will meet Obama at the Group of 20 summit in June, the Kremlin said Thursday.
Export-Import Bank Extension Likely Next Week
Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an attempt by the Democratic majority to unanimously pass a three-year extension of the authority of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that helps U.S. manufacturers sell goods abroad.
Republicans are demanding the right to hold amendment votes on the legislation that would seek to place constraints on the bank's ability to provide financing assistance to exporters.
Despite the political maneuvering, it is expected that an agreement will be reached between the parties that would allow votes on the bank's extension to take place next week.
The House passed the three-year extension of the bank's mandate earlier this week, lifting its financing cap gradually over that time to $140 billion from its current $100 billion.
The bank provides loan guarantees and some limited insurance to foreign companies seeking to buy U.S. manufactured goods. Every major American foreign trading partner operates a similar entity in their country providing assistance to domestic exporters.
Among the significant conferences next week are the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Health Care Conference Monday through Thursday in Las Vegas; the Deutsche Bank Clean Tech, Utilities and Power Conference on Monday and Tuesday in New York; the JMP Group Inc. Research Conference Monday through Wednesday in San Francisco; the JPMorgan Homebuilding and Building Products Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York; the JPMorgan TMT Conference Tuesday through Thursday in Boston; the Oppenheimer Industrials Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Transportation Conference on Thursday and Friday in Boston.
-By Nathalie Tadena, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3287; [email protected]
--Jacqueline Palank, Corey Boles, Frances Robinson, Clare Connaghan and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this article.