The day ahead: Thursday


Dell reports quarterly results for the first time as the No. 3 maker of personal computers — unfamiliar territory for a company that not so long ago was the world’s largest PC maker.

Other Highlights:

*  In what promises to be a fiery debate, the Senate Banking Committee begins discussion on Committee Chair Christopher Dodd’s Restoring American Financial Stability Act, a comprehensive bill to reform the financial system.

*  Also in Washington, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on financial regulatory reform before the Joint Economic Committee.

*  Quarterly results are expected from Gap, Sears, AnnTaylor and Children’s Place.

The Day Ahead: Thursday


Sales results will pour in from a wide range of chain retailers, while investors who bought media shares on hopes for an ad comeback will look to CBS for guidance.

*Chain stores ranging from J.C. Penney to Target to Gap report their October monthly sales results.

The day ahead: Thursday


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.