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Markets await earnings reports from bellwether companies

As Greece reopened its banks on Monday and began to repay some debts, U.S. economy watchers shifted their focus to the start of earnings season during a week that is light on government reports.

As Greece reopened its banks on Monday and began to repay some debts, U.S. economy watchers shifted their focus to the start of earnings season during a week that is light on government reports.

Companies due to issue earnings reports this week include Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., United Technologies Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., which is buying UTC’s Sikorsky Aircraft (all today); Boeing Co. (on Wednesday); and General Motors Co. and McDonald’s Corp. (both on Thursday).

Ahead of those reports the nation’s stock markets closed nearly flat on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.07 percent to 18,099.81; the S&P 500 also rose 0.07 percent to 2,128.23; and the Nasdaq composite index added 0.17 percent to 5,218.86.

In the marine industry, MarineMax will report fiscal third-quarter results on Wednesday, although competitors and analysts will have to wait until next week for reports from Marine Products Corp. (July 29) and Brunswick Corp. and West Marine (both on July 30).

On Wednesday, The National Association of Realtors will issue its report on home resales for June and on Friday the Commerce Department will report on new-home sales, also for June. Business Insider said economists are estimating that resales rose 0.9 percent, to an annualized rate of 5.4 million units, and that new-home sales fell 0.1 percent, to 546,000 units.

Last week the Commerce Department said housing starts rose 9.8 percent in June from May and were up 26.6 percent from June of 2014 as ground was broken on more than 1.17 million new homes. Building permits rose 7.4 percent, to more than 1.34 million, from May, and they were up 30 percent from June of last year.

The housing numbers and consumer inflation — the Consumer Price Index rose in June for the fifth month in a row — added to expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its September meeting.

"The barriers to a Fed hike are starting to crumble. The wait for the first rate hike may not be that much longer," Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, told Reuters.

Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen, in testimony before Congress last week, spoke of the progress the economy has made toward the Fed’s goal of maximum employment.

"If the economy evolves as we expect, economic conditions likely would make it appropriate at some point this year to raise the federal funds target rate, thereby beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy," she said.

A rate increase, if the Fed adopts one later this year, would be the first since 2006.

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