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November 7, 2006 > Wall Street awaits election results

Wall Street awaits election results

by Tim Paradis

NEW YORK (AP), Nov 03 _ Investors will be looking to Washington in the coming week, not for more of the economic numbers that have weighed so heavily on the markets in recent weeks, but to determine whether the winners in Tuesday's midterm elections will pursue an agenda that could affect business interests.

Although professional investors are often viewed as politically conservative, Wall Street likes what many voters hate: gridlock. The Street likes to mitigate as many risks as possible, so a moribund, non-activist government is often seen as one less variable businesses must contend with.

Investors will be waiting to see whether Democrats will make inroads, as polls have repeatedly suggested, and perhaps shift the balance of power in Washington and in state capitals.

Wall Street will have more time to focus on the elections because fewer economic and earnings numbers are expected this week than during the past month. A few big names such as Cisco Systems Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. are scheduled to report.

The lighter economic calendar will be viewed as good news by some wary investors. Much of the recent economic news unnerved investors hoping for signs of a gradual slowdown in the economy. Many on Wall Street interpreted the severity of readings in areas such as productivity, manufacturing and overall economic growth as indicating the economy was slowing too quickly.

Stocks, which rose sharply in October as investors bet that the economy was poised to pull off a soft landing, lost ground last week as that notion frayed. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week down 0.86 percent, while the Standard & Poors 500 index was down 0.95 percent and the Nasdaq composite index was down 0.84 percent. However, despite the week's losses, Friday brought a respite from the flow of negative economic news with a Labor Department report that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five years. Higher oil prices soured investor sentiment, however.

This week, investors will be watching to see whether voters concerned about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the economy will find some solace in the latest job figures and the strength the stock markets showed in October when they cast their vote.

ECONOMIC DATA

While voters head to the polls Tuesday, Wall Street expects to receive the Federal Reserve's September consumer credit report.

Wednesday brings a weekly reading of crude inventories; surprise readings in recent weeks have shifted oil prices.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department's report on import and export prices for October could give Wall Street insight on inflation; the figures help show what consumers pay for foreign-made goods. The Labor Department surprised investors last week with a report that wages rose nearly 4 percent in the third quarter, prompting concerns about inflation. The Fed isn't likely to lower interest rates until it deems inflation is contained.

The Commerce Department is also expected to issue its report on September's trade deficit Thursday. The previous figures showed the country's trade deficit ballooned to a record $69.9 billion in August as oil imports increased.

The day also brings the Commerce Department's report on wholesale inventories.

EARNINGS

While the flow of earnings is expected to decrease in the coming week, a number of big reports are due.

On Monday, Wall Street expects to receive a third-quarter results from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Analysts expect the company will earn $1.35 per share. The stock, which closed Friday at $47.43, has traded between $39.51 and $56.97 in the past 52 weeks.

Wednesday brings a fiscal first-quarter report from Cisco, which is expected to earn 29 cents per share. The stock has traded between $16.87 and $24.78 in the past 52 weeks and closed Friday at $23.77.

That day, Federated Department Stores Inc., parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, plans to release third-quarter results. Wall Street expects the retailer, which reported strong sales figures for October, will earn 25 cents per share. Federated shares closed Friday at $39.94 and have traded between $31.59 and $45.01 in the past 52 weeks.

On Thursday, entertainment company Viacom Inc. is expected to report a profit of 48 cents per share for the third quarter. The company, whose Class B shares have traded between $32.42 and $45 in the past 52 weeks, ended Friday at $36.53.

Another entertainment giant, Disney, reports Thursday. Wall Street will be looking for a profit of 33 cents per share for the company's fiscal fourth quarter. The stock closed Friday at $31.89 and traded between $23.77 and $31.99 in the past 52 weeks.

 
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