Retailers Gap Inc. (GPS), Macy's Inc. (M) and Target Corp. (TGT)--which all reported higher same-store sales the past two months--are among the companies scheduled to post quarterly results next week.
In Washington, a congressional hearing about Toyota Motor Corp's (TM, 7203.TO) recall is planned on Wednesday, while lawmakers mull bills addressing job creation and financial regulation.
Retailers Among Next Wave Of Quarterly Reports
Gap, which returned to television advertising late last year after a two-year absence, is expected to report results on Thursday, while Macy's already reported better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter sales. The department-store company reports full results on Tuesday.
Other retailers set to report include luxury retailer Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) on Monday, Target on Tuesdsay and apparel retailers Limited Brands Inc. (LTD) and Chico's FAS Inc. (CHS) on Wednesday.
New Credit-Card Rules Go Into Effect Monday
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, known as the CARD Act, takes full effect Monday and is meant to ensure that borrowers with a poor credit score and a history of late payments get treated the same way as borrowers who have kept their credit record clean. For example, starting next week, due dates for monthly payments must be the same each month. Payments beyond the minimum due must be applied to the highest-rate debt on the account, and rate hikes on existing balances on fixed-rate cards are prohibited under most conditions.
In addition, card issuers won't be able to charge additional fees when consumers pay by mail, electronic transfer, online or telephone unless the customer requests an expedited payment to avoid a late fee.
Toyota President Set To Testify In Washington Wed
Toyota President Akio Toyoda changed his mind and will testify at a congressional hearing Wednesday about the Japanese auto maker's recent recalls. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating Toyota's recall of more than six million U.S. vehicles for gas-pedal and sudden-acceleration problems.
Bernanke To Report On Monetary Policy Wed
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will appear before Congress next week to give his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress. The appearance--Wednesday at the House Financial Services Committee and Thurdsday before the Senate Banking Committee--comes a month after Bernanke was confirmed for a second term as Fed chairman after a contentious debate in the Senate. Senators voted 70-30 to give the Fed chief another four years, the strongest opposition a central banker chief has ever faced as the fallout from the financial crisis continues to resonate in Washington.
AstraZeneca Faces Legal Battles In 2 States
U.K.-based drug maker AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) will be fighting legal battles on two U.S. fronts beginning Monday. In New Brunswick, N.J., opening arguments begin in a state-court trial for a lawsuit filed by a man who alleges his use of AstraZeneca's Seroquel antipsychotic caused diabetes and that the drug maker failed to properly warn of the risks. It's the first of more than 10,400 pending Seroquel product-liability lawsuits to go to trial. In Wilmington, Del., AstraZeneca will defend the validity of the patent for its cholesterol drug Crestor, in an effort to stave off the entry of generic versions of the drug before the patent expires in 2016.
Dodd To Introduce Financial Regulation Bill
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) is planning to introduce a bill next week to overhaul financial regulation, and his panel could begin debating the proposal in the first week of March. The House passed its version of new financial rules in December, but progress has been slower in the Senate because of differences between Democrats and Republicans.
The Senate legislation is expected to establish a council of regulators to monitor emerging risks to the economy and a new banking regulator to oversee nationally chartered banks. The bill would also create more transparency for exotic financial products such as derivatives and create a mechanism for breaking up large financial companies without taxpayer-funded bailouts.
Obama To Host Summit On Health-Care Overhaul
The White House plans to hold a bipartisan health-care meeting with lawmakers Thursday, and has promised to publish its version of overhaul legislation by Sunday. Nearly 40 legislators are invited to the meeting, which will include discussion on four topics: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact a health overhaul would have on the deficit. Administration officials have said the president still hopes that Congress will pass a comprehensive health plan. Given Republican opposition in the Senate and Democrats' loss of their 60-seat supermajority, that could require the House to pass the health bill already approved by the Senate and for both chambers to make adjustments to that bill using a parliamentary move called reconciliation, which only requires 51 Senate votes.
Procedural Vote On Jobs Bill Expected Monday
The Senate is slated to hold a crucial procedural vote on $15 billion legislation aimed at spurring job creation when lawmakers return to Washington Monday. The outcome of the vote is far from clear, however, as Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D., Nev.) decision to abruptly replace a bipartisan job-creation bill with a more streamlined version of the legislation upset Republicans.
Data on Housing, Consumer Confidence Due Next Week
The government will release new homes sales data for the month of January on Wednesday, while the National Association of Realtors will report its data for existing home sales on Friday. Both are expected to report higher sales, after the figures declined in December as buyers rushed into the market before the expiration of a government tax credit, which was originally set to expire in November but was extended through April.
Meanwhile, a consumer confidence report is expected to report a slight decline in February, as consumers remained concerned about the economic recovery, although the sentiment has improved in recent months. The report is due Tuesday.
Olympics Coverage Continues On NBC
General Electric Co.'s (GE) NBC Universal unit will continue its broadcast of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, with continued coverage of ice hockey, figure skating, snowboarding, among other events. The United States leads the medal count, followed by Germany, Norway and Canada.
Among the significant conferences next week are the American Bankers Association National Conference for Community Bankers from Sunday through Wednesday in Hollywood, Fla.; Credit Suisse Group Global Services Conference from Sunday through Wednesday in Phoenix; Wells Fargo/Wachovia Housing and Building Products Conference from Monday through Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Bank of America Merrill Lynch Insurance Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York; Dow Jones Newswires Global Ethics Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York; Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference on Tuesday through Thursday in San Francisco; and Morgan Stanley Global Basic Materials Conference on Thursday and Friday in New York.
-By John Kell and Kathy Shwiff, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480; email@example.com
(Peter Loftus and other Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this report.)