What to Watch in The Day Ahead; Thursday, Aug. 14

Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:07pm 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. All times in ET/GMT) Wal-Mart Stores, which has been struggling with slowing quarterly sales growth in its biggest market, North America, is scheduled to release second-quarter results. The company in May forecast a profit below analysts' expectations for the quarter. The company has not seen spending improve as the U.S. job market recovers. The world's largest retailer is also facing growing competition from dollar stores and e-commerce giant Amazon.com, and is working to integrate e-commerce with its sprawling network of brick-and-mortar stores. Investors are looking for comments on any changes in execution following the appointment of new chiefs for its U.S. business and U.S. online business during the quarter, and progress on the rollout of small-format stores. New applications for state unemployment insurance likely rose in the latest week, the U.S. Labor Department is expected to report. Analysts polled by Reuters expect that jobless claims climbed to 295,000 last week from 289,000 in the prior week. That would still leave them at levels that would suggest the job market is strengthening. (0830/1230) Separately, data on import and export prices is scheduled to release for July. (0830/1230) Applied Materials, the largest maker of chip manufacturing equipment, is scheduled to post its fiscal third-quarter results as contract chipmakers invest in new technology to build cutting-edge components for smartphones and tablets. Wall Street will be looking for an update on the company's plan to buy Tokyo Electron for $9.4 billion in stock to consolidate in an industry with a shrinking number of major customers.

J.C. Penney, the department store operator, is expected to report second-quarter results. The company, midway through a major turnaround, reported a strong 6 percent rise in same-store sales in the first quarter after it revamped its household goods section and brought back many of the no-frills clothes that were ditched in its failed drive to attract more affluent shoppers. The company said at the time it expected the sales momentum to continue into the second quarter, but that optimism has been cast into doubt after several other department store operators posted or warned of poor sales due to cooler and wetter spring weather and a cutback in consumer spending. Investors will be keeping an eye on J.C. Penney's comparable sales figures and on the health of its balance sheet to see signs of whether the company's turnaround efforts are sustainable. China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, is expected to post first-half results. The company's net profit in the first quarter fell 9.5 percent to its lowest level in five years. Advance Auto Parts, the largest auto parts retailer in North America, is expected to report second-quarter results. The company is likely to post better-than-expected results due to higher demand. Autodesk, the maker of AutoCAD software used by construction, engineering and manufacturing companies to design and simulate real-world performance of their products, is likely to report better-than-expected revenue and profit for the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data. Top U.S hedge fund managers are due to report their stock holdings for the second quarter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These quarterly disclosures, in what are known as 13-F filings, are always intriguing for investors trying to divine a pattern in what stocks savvy traders are selling and buying. Among the top hedge funds/investors that will report their holdings are Berkshire Hathaway, Greenlight Capital, Carl Icahn, Pershing Square Capital Management, Tiger Global Management, Third Point, Jana Partners, Appaloosa Management, Paulson & Co, Omega Advisors and Soros Fund Management. Plug Power, the fuel cell maker, is expected to report a smaller second-quarter loss, helped by an increase in orders for its hydrogen fuel cells, used to power forklifts. Plug Power told Reuters in March that it expected to report a profit on an EBITDA basis for the first time in 2014, but warned two months later that it no longer expects to turn profitable this year. In May, Statistics Canada showed the prices of new homes in Canada were pushed higher by strength in the western Prairie region. New housing prices for June are expected to increase 0.2 percent from May. (0830/1230) Second-quarter flash gross domestic product data, along with final inflation numbers, is expected from the European Union's Statistics Office. The data is likely to show that the economy in the euro zone grew 0.1 percent in the quarter. On a monthly basis, inflation was 0.1 percent in June. (0500/0900) Brazil's statistics agency, IBGE, is expected to release monthly retail sales data for June. Retail sales in Brazil probably rose slightly in June as the World Cup soccer tournament boosted demand for food and beverages at supermarkets, offering a boost to a slumping economy. (0800/1200) Chile's central bank is scheduled to meet to set the interest rate. The central bank is seen cutting its benchmark interest rate by an additional 75 basis points to end the year at 3.0 percent as stagnating economic growth in the world's top copper producer outweighs fears of fanning higher inflation. (1800/2200) (Compiled by Sourav Bose in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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