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Earnings Preview: Home Depot's 4Q results

NEW YORK (AP) -- Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home-improvement retailer, reports fourth-quarter results before the market opens on Tuesday, and analysts will be watching for any indication that sales are improving as the housing industry continues to recover.

Analysts expect higher net income and revenue from the largest U.S. home-improvement retailer.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The housing market has been slowly improving, with home sales and prices rising. Home improvement retailers such as Home Depot are expected to benefit. The chain could also have gotten a boost from cleanup related to Superstorm Sandy and strong demand for appliances.

In addition, analysts will be looking for details on Home Depot's plans for spring, its busiest season. Earlier this month it said it will hire 80,000 seasonal workers, up from 70,000 last year, an indication it expects the season will be bustling.

WHY IT MATTERS: Strong sales would be another indicator that the housing market is definitively on the upswing.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts expect net income of 64 cents per share on revenue of $17.72 billion, according to FactSet.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Net income totaled 50 cents per share on revenue of $16.01 billion.