Slated Financial Reports Suggest Rough Week Ahead

This week promises a heapin’ helpin’ of gloomy economic news. Twelve Dow Jones companies and 137 companies listed on the S&P 500 are slated to make quarterly reports. Many industries will be represented: manufacturing (Caterpiller), energy (Exxon-Mobil), financial (Amex), Internet (Yahoo!) and even fast food (McDonald’s). Except for the likes of McDonald’s, things aren’t looking so good, so the markets might take it hard. On the other hand, everyone’s expecting poor numbers, so the markets might not take it so hard. Yo-yoing is entirely possible in any case.As a bonus extra, the government will release fourth quarter U.S. GDP figures on Friday. The consensus among those who forecast such things is predicting a drop of more than 5 percent. The markets wobbled around on Friday but ended up close to their starting points. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 45.24 points, or 0.56 percent, but ended the week above 8,000. The S&P 500 ended up 0.54 percent and the Nasdaq ended up 0.56 percent. President Obama took to the radio and the Internet over the weekend–or perhaps the bully pulpit–to push for his $825 billion stimulus package. “If we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse,” he said. Though there’s little yet in the works directly related to commercial real estate, there are parts of the proposed package designed to stimulate the greening of some real estate, especially that owned by the federal government. If passed in its proposed form, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan (the formal name of the proposal), would pay for increased energy efficiency in a majority of federal buildings. Some $6.7 billion would go for renovations and repairs to federal buildings, including at least $6 billion for increasing energy efficiency and conservation. Projects would be selected based on General Service Administration’s ready-to-go priority list. Other governments have their own bailouts in mind, including direct help for real estate. The Australian government has said it will set up a lending fund totaling some $2.6 billion to lend to commercial property companies in case they are unable to finance their debt held by overseas banks. The government is providing some of the fund, while the country’s four largest banks (Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Westpac Banking Corp., and National Australia Bank Ltd.) are also chipping in.