From Reuters.com

The day ahead: Tuesday

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Automakers’ monthly sales numbers, manufacturing and housing data are among the highlights expected on Tuesday.

*  Automakers are expected to report that August had the strongest U.S. monthly sales figures for the year, spurred by the U.S. government “cash for clunkers” program.

*  Expectations that the Institute of Supply Managers’ national manufacturing survey will go above the expansion level of 50 and will get stronger going forward rose after Monday’s Chicago purchasing managers index showed improvement.

*  The Commerce Department issues Construction Spending data for July, concurrently with the National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index at 10 a.m. EDT.

Graphic: Healthcare fund flows

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Vital signs for healthcare stocks are improving at the expense of what is shaping up to be a watered down government health reform initiative.

But the sector, which is heavily weighted to U.S. healthcare companies, is still struggling to regain its footing with more investor cash leaving the group than is coming in while the reform debate rages across the United States.

The day ahead: Friday

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Consumer spending and income data will be closely watched, along with a gauge of consumer sentiment, Tiffany results, and reaction to Apple’s new operating system.

*  July personal income and spending data will provide more clues on the likely durability of any economic recovery. Personal income probably rose  0.2 percent compared with a year earlier after a drop of 1.3 percent the previous month, according to Reuters polling.

The day ahead: Thursday

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Offsetting upbeat economic data earlier in the week, investors brace for a revised down U.S. Q2 GDP number foretelling a lengthy and fragile economic recovery.

* The second reading of the U.S. Q2 GDP is expected to result in a downward revision to minus 1.5 percent on an inflation-adjusted annualized basis, compared with an original reading of minus 1.0 percent.

The day ahead

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Here’s what to expect on Reuters.com on Wednesday, Aug. 26:

Durable goods orders, new home sales data and earnings from Dollar Tree and Williams-Sonoma are among the highlights expected Wednesday.

* Orders for durable goods such as motor vehicles, aircraft and refrigerators probably rebounded in July, supporting views that the manufacturing sector is starting to heal.

Graphic: Michael Jackson’s death

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Pop star Michael Jackson died from a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol given in a cocktail of drugs, leading authorities to suspect his doctor of manslaughter, court documents showed on Monday.

Graphic: Hurricane Bill

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The day ahead: Friday

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Existing home sales data and a speech from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold the spotlight on Friday.

    Sales of existing homes probably rose to their highest level in 10 months in July, according to a Reuters poll, as buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax credit for first-time homeowners. Policy-makers from around the world are in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s yearly conference. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke takes the podium at 10:00 a.m. EDT to share his thoughts on how sustainable the recent economic recovery is. GM’s board of directors is expected to address the sale of Opel and aims to recommend one of two competing bids for the German unit.

The day ahead: Thursday

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Investors’ attention will turn to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as policy-makers from around the world gather to talk about how to prevent another global financial crisis. Results from Gap and Sears are also expected.

    The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s yearly conference at a mountain retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, draws central bankers and top economists together as the current crisis appears to be easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks on Friday. Gap’s results will show whether its focus on boosting margins, even as a widespread slump in consumer spending has cut into sales, has been successful. Eddie Lampert’s efforts to break Sears into five segments and taking his scattered approach to finding a format for growth will be on display when the retailer reports quarterly financials. August business activity and weekly employment data should reinforce investor expectations that the economy is on the mend.

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