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Fresh Economic Data to Launch 2nd Quarter | PREVIEW

April 01, 2002|Reuters

Reports this week on the nation's employment picture and data on manufacturing could boost Wall Street's taste for U.S. equities and help offset worries of higher oil prices and inflation in the face of Middle East violence.

The earnings season, when companies report quarterly profits and revenues, heats up next week. Until then, investors have little in the way of fundamental signals to guide stock purchases or sales. And reports of more violence in Israel are unlikely to shake investors into making big bets on stocks, fund managers say.

The second quarter of 2002 begins today with a trickle of first-quarter earnings reports. Companies expected to report include home-products retailers Best Buy Co. and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Among the 30 companies whose stocks make up the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average, the first to report earnings will be Alcoa Inc., the world's No. 1 aluminum producer, which issues its numbers Friday.

The week will bring a slew of fresh economic data.

* Today, the Institute for Supply Management issues its gauge of the U.S. manufacturing sector, which it calculates from order, production and inventory data.

* Today, a report on construction spending during February from the Commerce Department is likely to show that the building of homes and commercial structures is robust.

* Tuesday, the Commerce Department will report on manufacturers' orders in February.

* Wednesday, the Institute for Supply Management issues data on the non-manufacturing sector.

* Friday, the Labor Department issues its nonfarm payrolls report, which is expected to show that the unemployment rate rose to 5.6% in March from 5.5% in February. A higher-than-expected jobless rate may slow the economic recovery.

* Friday, the Federal Reserve will report on consumer borrowing in February.

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