But all eyes are on Bernanke, who will speak about the U.S. economy at the Fed's annual Jackson Hole confab. Anticipation has been building that he will repeat his performance from last year and lay out the plans for another round of quantitative easing.
China's manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) for August came in modestly better than expected, showing improvement over the prior month's reading. The composite PMI reading for the Euro Zone also came in better than expected, though it stayed steady at the prior month's level. Importantly, Germany's PMI posted decent momentum. The positive aspect of the Chinese and Euro Zone PMI data is not so much that it is very good, but rather that it could have been quite bad. And that counts for something in these grim times.
With respect to "Bernanke Watch," I am not looking for an announcement of a new quantitative easing program. What we will get instead is a discussion from the Fed Chief of the different policy options at the central bank's disposal and their pros and cons. The high inflation readings of recent months make it almost impossible for him to announce another round of easing.
And as we found from the last FOMC meeting, Bernanke does not have all his members on-board for a fresh round of monetary easing. Unless growth and inflation readings drop precipitously in the coming months, all the talk of further easing will likely come to nothing.
On the earnings front, we got a top- and bottom-line beat from H.J. Heinz (HNZ/url]), though rising input costs weighed on the ketchup-maker's margins. Medtronic ([url=http://www.zacks.com/stock/quote/mdt]MDT), the largest medical device maker, came out with inline earnings on a modest revenue beat. Results would have fallen short of expectations without positive contribution from foreign exhange effects. In other corporate news, we have share buyback announcements from Lowe's (LOW) for $5 billion and Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) for $500 million.
ALPHA NATRL RES (ANR): Free Stock Analysis Report
HEINZ (HJ) CO (HNZ): Free Stock Analysis Report
LOWES COS (LOW): Free Stock Analysis Report
MEDTRONIC (MDT): Free Stock Analysis Report
Zacks Investment Research