What to Watch in The Day Ahead; Tuesday, May 20

Mon May 19, 2014 2:33pm EDT

(The Day Ahead is an email and PDF publication that includes the day's major stories and events, analyses and other features. To receive The Day Ahead, Eikon users can register at. Thomson One users can register at RT/DAY/US) The U.S. Senate is expected to hold a preliminary vote on the nomination of Stanley Fischer to be vice chairman at the Federal Reserve. The nomination is expected to handily win the 51 votes that would be needed to move to a final debate on the nomination; a final vote is expected on Wednesday. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser is expected to speak on the economic outlook before the Women in Housing and Finance Public Policy Luncheon in Washington. Separately, New York Federal Reserve Bank William Dudley speaks on the economy and monetary policy before the New York Association for Business Economics in New York. With U.S. retailers from Wal-Mart to Macy's blaming protracted cold weather for weak sales, all eyes will be on Home Depot's sales when it reports first-quarter results before the bell. The home improvement chain had forecast a strong spring selling season as consumers were likely to spend on repairs following the winter storms, but it seems likely that bad weather in February and March continued to keep shoppers away from its stores. Investors and analysts will also be looking out for management's comments and outlook on the state of the U.S. housing market, particularly as recovery appears to be faltering. Investors are due to get their first look at Medtronic's earnings outlook for the year ahead when the medical device maker reports fourth-quarter results. Analysts expect low- to mid-single-digit revenue growth, with stronger diabetes and neuromodulation device sales offsetting soft markets for implantable heart devices. Office supplies retailer Staples is expected to report a decline in first-quarter sales as it continues to lose customers to mass market chains, drugstores and online retailers. To combat falling sales in North America, Staples has been shifting its focus to new categories such as breakroom supplies and copy and print services from traditional office supplies such as paper and toner. The company also announced that it would close 225 stores in North America. Investors will be looking out for any new initiatives to stem the sales declines and for any additional plans for store closures. Microsoft, which is desperately trying to play catch-up with Apple's iPad, looks set to unveil the third generation of its Surface tablet at a press gathering in New York. The company has hinted previously that it is focusing on smaller screens, which could herald a mini Surface to take on the hot selling, diminutive devices from Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon. TJX Cos, the owner of the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains, is scheduled to report first-quarter results before the bell. Investors will look for signs if the company is continuing to gain customers at the cost of larger peers. The bargain store operator has said it expects comparable-store sales growth of 1-2 percent and earnings of 65-66 cents per share, below the average analyst estimate of 67 cents. Intuit has said it expects a strong third-quarter performance due to demand for its online tax-preparation software, Turbo-Tax, in the U.S. tax-filing season. The company, which is scheduled to release its results after the bell, is expected to benefit from the growing do-it-yourself software category. Intuit raised its forecast for full-year consumer tax revenue growth to 6 percent from 4-5 percent. Canadian wholesale activity is expected to have seen cooler growth in March. Statistics Canada is expected to report that wholesale trade increased by 0.4 percent in March compared with 1.1 percent in April. (Compiled By Ayesha Sruti Ahmed in Bangalore)

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