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US EQUITIES WEEK AHEAD: Apple, Blue Chip Earnings; Two Tech IPOs

By Nathalie Tadena Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Technology stalwart Apple Inc. (AAPL) is due to report its second-quarter results Tuesday, coming off a blockbuster first-quarter that broke new sales and profit records. Other blue chip companies expected to release results next week include 3M Co. (MMM), Boeing Co. (BA) and Procter & Gamble Co. (PG). A handful of companies are set to go public next week, including digital marketing company Acquity Group Ltd. and telecommunications software firm Envivio Inc. Apple Expected To Post Top, Bottom-Line Growth Apple will release its second-quarter results Tuesday and investors will be looking for signs the technology giant can maintain its strong momentum. The latest results come after Apple reported a blockbuster first-quarter, which hit new sales and profit records, thanks to the surging popularity of its smartphone and tablet computer. Usually a conservative company, Apple in January provided an outlook for the second quarter that already was better than analyst estimates at the time. Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope recently predicted iPhone and iPad sales figures will again boost overall results and noted any concerns of a "catalyst-light" current quarter are misguided. Shope also said concerns about a potential reduction in iPhone subsidies from wireless carriers are "overblown." Last month, Apple unveiled plans to return some of its cash hoard to shareholders by declaring a long-awaited quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share and authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program that will start at the beginning of the company's fiscal 2013. Quarterly Earnings Due From Several Blue Chip Stocks A handful of Dow Jones Industrial Average companies--including 3M, Boeing, Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) and Caterpillar Inc. (CAT)--are among those reporting their latest quarterly results next week. Defense and aerospace company Boeing and heavy-machinery maker Caterpillar are both expected to post double-digit gains in revenue and per-share earnings, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. 3M, which makes a range of products from Post-it notes to orthodontic braces, has warned that sales growth would remain sluggish this year as more customers are drawing down inventories instead of making more orders. Analysts expect the company to post flat per-share earnings and slightly higher revenue. Meanwhile, P&G, the world's largest consumer-goods company, is projected to post a slight decline in earnings and flat revenue. P&G issued a downbeat view for its third quarter while slashing its full-year earnings projection in January due primarily to unfavorable currency rates. Two Tech IPOs In Week Ahead Following the past two days' string of strong debuts, this coming week's crop of IPO hopefuls may not shine as brightly. There are two technology-related deals, a sector that has fared well this year, including the 108.7% gain notched by data analysis software company Splunk Inc. (SPLK) Thursday. But neither of the tech deals planned for this coming week-- Acquity Group Ltd. and Envivio Inc.-- are expected to generate the same level of excitement. Acquity is hoping to raise $56 million on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "AQ." The Hong Kong-headquartered firm provides digital marketing and e-commerce services to more than 500 companies, including Allstate Insurance Co., Discover Card's mobile business, and W.W. Grainger Inc. (GWW). The other tech deal is from Envivio, which is hoping to raise $94 million through a listing on the Nasdaq under the symbol "ENVI." Envivio makes software to process and distribute Internet protocol-based video. Moving out of the tech sector, there are also offerings from energy industry parts distributor Edgen Group Inc., drug developer Supernus Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Chinese car-rental company China Auto Rental. Consumer Confidence Reports, More Housing Data Due Two reports that gauge consumers' views on the economy are due next week. The Conference Board's confidence index for April is set to be released Monday. The private research group's index dropped to 70.2 in March after jumping more than 10 points in February. Although the job picture is improving, households are facing rising gasoline prices. Meanwhile, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for the end of April is due Friday. The index at the end of March stood at 76.2, compared with the 75.3 posted at the end of February. Housing data--including March new home sales and pending home sales as well as the February S&P/ Case Shiller home price index--and durable good orders are also among the economic indicators to be released next week. AMR To Argue For Right To Reject Labor Agreements Barring any last-minute settlements, the parent of American Airlines on Monday will begin arguing for the right to reject labor agreements with its three big unions. Arguments are expected to last throughout the week. AMR Corp. (AAMRQ) is proposing cuts in jobs, benefits and wages for both its union and nonunion employees in a bid to save $1.25 billion in annual labor costs after exiting bankruptcy. So far, negotiations with its unions--the Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Transport Workers Union--have failed to reach a consensus. As a result, AMR wants a Manhattan bankruptcy judge to agree to terminate the deals, which would give it a clean slate to negotiate for the changes it says are necessary to its survival. The unions are fighting AMR's request to terminate their collective-bargaining agreements. They've also questioned whether the company has really tried to achieve a consensus in ongoing negotiations. FOMC Meeting Planned, No New Policies Expected Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve's policy-setting panel, will commence a two-day policy meeting Tuesday. The Fed isn't expected to announce any new policies and is expected to affirm its plans to keep rates at exceptionally low levels at least through late 2014. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also likely to reiterate the central bank's commitment to add stimulus if needed. Conferences Among the significant conferences next week are Barclays Capital Retail and Restaurants Conference Tuesday and Wednesday in New York; Hart Energy's Developing Unconventional Gas Conference & Exhibition Monday through Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas; and the Institutional Investor Inc. Defined Contribution Forum Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, Fla. -By Nathalie Tadena, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3287; --Lynn Cowan, Jacqueline Palank and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this article.

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