Investors and business people around the world will pay close attention this Tuesday when the Fed meets to discuss interest rates.
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, meets regularly to set interest-rate policy, and most economic observers believe they will once again decide to lower interest rates.
The committee, chaired by Alan Greenspan, has lowered rates six times this year in an effort to prop up economic growth.
In June, the Fed lowered the funds rate, the interest banks charge to make loans to one another, to a seven-year low of 3.75 percent.
The Federal Reserve's primary focus is to contain inflation, and its main instrument is interest rates. Lowering interest rates makes it less expensive for businesses to finance expansion plans, sparking economic growth.
Also, this week the Hewlett-Packard faithful will gather in Chicago for HP World to talk shop. The computer giant exceeded Wall Street's lowered earnings expectations last week by reporting a profit of 11 cents a share, excluding items, compared with analysts estimates of 4 cents.
Other events scheduled this week:
- HP World 2001 kicks off at McCormick Place, Chicago, Aug. 20-24. The event provides the chance for computer maker Hewlett-Packard to gather with its business partners to share plans and show off technology. Keynote addresses begin with Ann Livermore, president of HP's services group on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
- Wireless Developer 2001 takes place at the Westin Hotel in Santa Clara, Calif., Aug. 20-24. The event is for software developers, executives, and venture capitalists in the wireless industry and includes exhibits by AT&T Wireless, Compaq Computer, Ericsson, Cingular Wireless, and Research in Motion.
- Frost & Sullivan will sponsor the Competitive Intelligence Conference at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., Aug. 20-23. The conference is for executives interested in gathering information about their industry and competitors that will give them an advantage in the marketplace.
- JabberCon 2001 takes place at the Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colo., Aug. 20-21. The gathering is for people interested in learning about Jabber, an open-source instant-messaging software program.
- Alexander Resources will host a conference on third generation wireless technology (3G) in San Jose, Calif., Aug. 20-21. The event, called "3G Promises and Realities," is for researchers and executives within the wireless, cable, and phone industries interested in the up and coming technology standard.
- The xSP conference takes place at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston, Aug. 21-22. The event is for Internet, storage, and data service providers. Keynote speakers include executives from Intel, Microsoft, PeopleSoft, and IBM.
- Marcus Evans will host a conference on optical communications at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, Aug. 21-23. The event will focus on how to use optical Ethernet technology in city communications networks and will include presentations from Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, AT&T as well as other equipment makers and carriers.
- Marcus Evans will also hold a conference at the Hyatt St. Claire in San Jose, Calif., Aug. 21-22. The event is for people interested in learning about how to use Internet protocol standards in VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and includes speeches by researchers from Lucent and AT&T.
- Active Communications International will kick off a conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago, Aug. 22-23. The event will address how phone companies can provide online customer service and features case studies and presentations by executives from AT&T, Avaya Communications, Alltel, and Oracle
- Telecommunications-equipment maker Lucent Technologies will hold a conference call at 12:00 EST on Thursday, Aug. 23, and will review the second phase of its restructuring plan. The call will be Webcast, and interested parties can go to the investor relations section on the company's Web site for more information.
- The Institute for International Research will sponsor a conference on wireless network design at the Radisson Miyako in San Francisco, Aug. 23-24. The event is for people within the wireless industry interested in the technology and the methods used to build networks.
Monday, Aug. 20
- Agilent Technologies, a former division of Hewlett-Packard, makes test equipment for semiconductors, computers, and telecom equipment. Per-share consensus estimate for the third fiscal quarter: loss of 35 cents.
- Intuit develops and sells personal finance software like Quicken and TurboTax. Per-share consensus estimate for the fourth fiscal quarter: loss of 10 cents.
- Sycamore Networks makes optical telecom equipment. Per-share consensus estimate for the fourth fiscal quarter: loss of 12 cents.
- TD Waterhouse Group is an online stock brokerage firm that lets customers trade stocks through Internet accounts. Per-share consensus estimate for the third fiscal quarter: profit of 2 cents.
- ADC Telecommunications makes telecom equipment for local, long-distance and wireless phone companies, as well as cable service providers. Per-share consensus estimate for the third fiscal quarter: loss of 6 cents.
- VA Linux Systems makes operating system software based on open source Linux software. Per-share consensus estimate for the fourth fiscal quarter: loss of 32 cents.
Monday, Aug. 20
- The index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) is expected to rise 0.3 percent for July as compiled by the Conference Board, a business group. The LEI gained 0.3 percent in June. The index, designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle, is a combination of 10 indicators, including consumer expectations, money supply data, and the change in housing permits issued. A falling index generally indicates an economic contraction, while a climbing index signals an expansion.
- The Treasury Budget is a monthly report of the surplus or deficit of the U.S. government from the Department of Treasury. Government spending is expected to fall into the red for July and record a deficit of $1.5 billion compared with the previous month's surplus of $5.1 billion.
- The Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-setting arm of the Federal Reserve, meets to discuss interest rates. A Reuters poll published on Thursday determined that most analysts expect the Fed will cut the 3.75 percent federal-funds rate on overnight bank lending by 25 basis points to 3.50 percent.
- Initial Claimsrefers to the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits each week as reported by the Department of Labor. Claims will be reported for the week of Aug. 18.
- Economists use Durable Goods Orders to measure demand in the economy. The data represent the percentage increase or decrease of big ticket items purchased, such as washing machines and refrigerators, as reported monthly by the Commerce Department. Wall Street expects July orders to fall 0.5 percent from the previous month, compared with June's drop of 2.0 percent.
- The Commerce Department will release New Home Sales figures for July, which represents the number of new homes sold in the United States, and serves as another measure of demand in the economy. Economists expect sales to fall to 910,000 from June's 922,000.