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US EQUITIES WEEK AHEAD: Market Awaits Jobs, Auto, Retail Sales Data

By John Kell and Kathy Shwiff Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The August unemployment rate--out next Friday--is expected to tick up to 9.6% as total payrolls shrink by 120,000 jobs, according to The auto industry is expected to post an 18% decline in new-vehicle sales in August, according to, as year-earlier results benefited from surging demand on the government's popular Cash For Clunkers scrappage program. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in prepared remarks Friday kicked off a two-day meeting of the world's top central bankers in Jackson, Wyo. The recovery that started more than a year ago is running out of steam, and the slowdown in the U.S., the world's largest economy, is of particular concern. August Jobless Rate Could Tick Up To 9.6% The jobless rate for August, which will be released next Friday, is likely to rise to 9.6% from 9.5% a month earlier, according to economists surveyed by The country lost 131,000 and 221,000 jobs in July and June, respectively, while unemployment remained at 9.5% both months as folks left the work force. Initial weekly unemployment claims hit a nine-month high earlier during August. New-Vehicle Sales Seen Dropping In August August U.S. new-vehicle sales, out Wednesday, are expected to decline, although the comparison from a year ago is heavily skewed by a boost the industry received from the government's Cash For Clunkers program., a car-shopping website, on Thursday estimated the industry will sell roughly 1.03 million units in August, which would result in a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 11.8 million units, up from 11.5 million in July--the best performance so far in 2009. Retailers, Apparel Companies Report Latest Results More retailer and apparel companies will report quarterly results in the coming week, with many expected to see some improvement in results. It comes amid a backdrop of the industry remaining extremely cautious about consumer sentiment in the second half of the year. Bookstore chain Borders Group Inc. (BGP), footwear company Collective Brands Inc. (PSS) and apparel company Oxford Industries (OXM) all report results on Wednesday. The quarterly reports come as retailers will also provide August sales data, giving insight on how the back-to-school season has been going. Renewed economic concerns could put a wet blanket on some purchases. Other notable companies reporting earnings next week include home builder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV) on Wednesday and tax preparer H&R Block Inc. (HRB) and videogame maker Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO) on Thursday. Consumer Confidence Index Expected To Increase Slightly The August Consumer Confidence Index is expected to report a slight increase from the prior month on Tuesday, according to, although it is clear that high unemployment and fears of a double-dip weigh heavily on consumer attitudes. The Conference Board's index fell to 50.4 in July, its lowest level since February. Also out next week are reports on personal income and spending, which expects will climb slightly in July after reporting flat numbers in June. The figures are released by the Department of Commerce on Monday. Two days later, the Institute for Supply Management report, a national survey of purchasing managers, is expected to notch another decline in August. Among appearances by Federal Reserve officials: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard speaks Monday in St. Louis and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher speaks Wednesday in Houston. Central Bankers Meet To Discuss Economy Central bankers and academic experts are meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., through Saturday to discuss what can be done to help a global economic recovery that's quickly losing steam. In Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech Friday morning, which kicked off the annual event, he said he is ready to do what it takes to support an economic recovery that has been losing steam, but stopped short of saying if the Fed will act. The Kansas City Fed, which sponsors the conference, left out some of its top officials and some Wall Street notables so it could invite more foreign dignitaries. Apple May Show Off New Versions Of iPod Apple Inc. (AAPL) is expected to update its lineup of iPod digital music players Wednesday at an event in San Francisco. Apple traditionally holds a September event at which it announces new iPod products, usually versions of existing players with added functionality, as well as updates to its iTunes media store. This time, the consumer electronics giant could unveil a streaming radio service, at least according to one analyst, as well as a new Apple TV device. Apple and major television companies are discussing the prospect of renting TV shows for as little as 99 cents. Results Of Anticoagulant Study Due Tuesday Researchers will present full results of a positive study of experimental anticoagulant apixaban, co-developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE), at a European heart meeting Tuesday. The drug makers previously said the study was halted early because apixaban reduced strokes and clots compared with patients taking aspirin, but investors are eager for full results. Analysts have predicted apixaban could gain a strong share of the market, estimated at $10 billion to $20 billion. The European Society of Cardiology Congress meets in Stockholm from Saturday through Wednesday. Obama To Discuss Troop Withdrawal From Iraq President Barack Obama will deliver a major address on the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday from the Oval Office. This week, the U.S. military confirmed the number of U.S. troops in the country had fallen below 50,000. Shortly after coming into office in 2009, Obama pledged to end combat operations in Iraq by the end of this month, bringing "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to an end. Mideast Peace Talks To Start Thursday In U.S. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to meet with Obama on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., before a new round of Mideast peace talks start the next day. The launching of direct peace talks represents a victory for the Obama administration, which made Mideast peace efforts an early priority of its foreign-policy plans. This week, Netanyahu said an agreement would be "difficult but possible," while Abbas has warned he will pull out of the talks if Israel doesn't extend a partial, 10-month moratorium on building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank that is due to expire Sept. 26. Residents, Media To Mark 5 Years After Katrina Many television-news programs will mark the fifth anniversary Sunday of Hurricane Katrina, which caused devastation along the Gulf Coast. Residents and officials--especially in New Orleans, where floodwaters drove tens of thousands from their homes--are assessing how the storm changed their lives and their communities. Many New TV Shows Among Nominees For Emmy Awards The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented Sunday in Los Angeles with many new faces among the nominees. Five of the 12 shows up for best comedy and drama are competing for the first time. And there's no guarantee that "30 Rock" and "Mad Men" will repeat their victories of last year. Late-night talk-show host and comedian Jimmy Fallon will host the Emmys, which is being broadcast live in the Eastern and Pacific time zones for the first time in 30 years. U.S. Open Tennis Tournament To Start Monday The U.S. Open tennis tournament starts Monday and runs through Sept. 12 in New York City. Defending champion Juan Martin del Potro won't compete at the event, although on the women's side, two-time U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters is ranked second and will play Hungary's Greta Arn in the first round. Meanwhile, working with CBS Corp. (CBS) Sports, the United States Tennis Association and Panasonic Corp. (PC, 6752.TO) will spearhead the first-ever 3D broadcasts of the tournament, the last tennis major of the year. Conferences Among the significant conferences next week are the Morgan Stanley Global Industrials Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York, and Three Part Advisors LLC Midwest Ideas Investor Conference on Tuesday in Chicago. -By John Kell and Kathy Shwiff, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2357; (Ian Sherr and other Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this report.)

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