A few notable companies, including business-software giant Oracle Corp. (ORCL), are slated to report their latest quarterly results during the muted business week before Christmas.
A handful of economic indicators are expected next week, including housing starts and existing home sales.
The International Trade Commission is expected to rule on Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) patent case against HTC Corp. (HTCXF, 2498.TW) on Monday after the ruling had been postponed twice earlier this month.
Oracle Expected To Post Earnings, Revenue Growth
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Oracle, which reports Tuesday, to post higher earnings and revenue for its fiscal second quarter. Oracle has reported strong bottom-line growth for several quarters, as the top line benefited from the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in early 2010 and increased revenue from new licenses and services. But declining sales of Oracle's hardware products in the fourth quarter raised questions about its decision to expand beyond its traditional software business.
Other notable companies reporting next week include cruise-line operator Carnival Corp. (CCL), food company ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG), investment bank Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF), athletic-shoe maker Nike Inc. (NKE) and drugstore chain Walgreen Co. (WAG).
Housing Data Due Next Week
Markets will examine multiple reports on the housing market next week. The U.S. government will release data on November housing starts Tuesday. U.S. home building fell less than expected in October, while a gauge of future construction surged, a sign the long-suffering housing sector might be stabilizing.
A day later, the National Association of Realtors will report November sales figures for existing homes. A month earlier, the group's data showed sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. unexpectedly climbed in October, but prices continued to drop.
Meanwhile, a report on new home sales in November is expected Friday. New-home sales rose slightly in October, but the level of demand is historically very weak because of high unemployment in the U.S. and competition from cheaper existing homes.
Other governments data points due next week include November durable-goods orders, the final revision to third-quarter gross domestic product, and reports on November personal income and spending.
HTC, Apple Patent Case Scheduled For Monday
The International Trade Commission in Washington is expected to rule Monday whether some phones made by Taiwanese handset maker HTC violate Apple's patents. The ruling could lead to a ban on handsets sold by HTC, which uses Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android system.
The ruling had been postponed twice this month.
Apple has been tangling in courts with other prominent Android device makers, including Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNHY, 005930.SE) and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (MMI). The cases reflect Apple's belief that many competing smartphones violate features Apple popularized with its iPhone and iPad tablet computer.
Trump Seeks To Kick Off Auction For Florida's Doral
On Monday, the company that owns Doral Golf Resort & Spa will be in the New York bankruptcy court to seek approval to put the Florida resort on the auction block.
Donald Trump's hotel group has offered to buy the resort for $150 million, down from an initial offer of $170 million. At Monday's hearing, the Trump group will seek permission to serve as the lead, or stalking-horse, bidder at the auction.
Doral is owned by hedge fund Paulson & Co. and Winthrop Realty Trust (FUR), which placed the well-known Miami-area golf venue into Chapter 11 protection in February along with four other luxury resorts.
IMF Officials To Go To Rome Next Week, But Not Official Review
International Monetary Fund officials will review the state of Italy's economy and its new budget next week in Rome, but the visit won't be the official "monitoring mission" the debt-beleaguered country agreed to at a summit of world leaders last month, an IMF official said Thursday.
As the debt crisis threatens to engulf Europe's core economies, Italy told world leaders at the Group of 20 industrialized and developing economies summit last week it would allow the IMF to monitor its progress on fiscal changes. The euro zone's biggest fear is that markets will cease financing Italy's massive spending needs, sparking a meltdown Europe would be powerless to stop.
Officials indicated in early November an IMF team would be shortly heading to Rome to start the monitoring mission. But the cost of Italian borrowing has receded slightly since then, and there's been no official monitoring mission scheduled.
-By Nathalie Tadena, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3287; email@example.com
-Marie Beaudette, Ian Sherr, Ian Talley and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this report.)