Alcoa (AA) will unofficially kick off earnings season when it reports quarterly results after the bell today. The aluminum maker is considered a bellwether of the industrial economy, even though it was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average last year due to weak earnings. Wall Street expects Alcoa to earn $0.05 a share on revenue of $5.55 billion. Later this week, the banks will follow with earnings from J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) slated for Friday releases.
Small business owners are a little more optimistic about the state of the economy than they were last month, according to a new survey released today. The National Federation of Independent Business said its small-business optimism index rose 2 points in March to 93.4 from 91.4 in February. That is still below levels reached in January and historically low as the economic recovery continues at a slow pace. Business owners, however, are more hopeful that sales will pick up as the weather improves through the spring. The respondents are most optimistic about investment with “plans to make capital outlays” topping the list. The respondents’ most negative outlook was on earnings.