Besides earnings, there will be plenty of opportunities in the coming week to hear companies discussing their outlooks: The health-care industry will attend the JPMorgan Health Care conference in San Francisco, starting Monday. Automakers will also be in the headlines, with the annual Detroit Auto show.
S&P 500 companies should see fourth-quarter profits rise by an overall 7.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenues are expected to be flat, up less than half a percent.
Thomson Reuters reports that financials are expected to show more profit growth than any other sector, up 21 percent, and energy is expected to be the worst, down 8.1 percent because of volatile energy prices.
According to FactSet, insurers are helping to boost expectations for financial company earnings because of easy comparisons with the year-earlier quarter, which was affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Chevron set a disappointing tone for the energy sector Thursday, when it said that fourth-quarter profit is likely to be comparable to that of the third quarter—lower than analysts expect.
A flurry of Fed speeches are scheduled in the coming week, with an appearance Thursday at the Brookings Institutution by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who will address the role of the Fed after the Great Recession.
Other speakers will be watched for comments on the direction of Fed policy, including Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, a hawk who became a voting member this year.
Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities, said the Fed is not likely to be affected by one weak jobs report and will maintain its plan to taper its $85 billion bond-buying program. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Friday that he expects the central bank to proceed with tapering and that the jobs number probably will be revised higher.
Stanley said, "I don't think their path in the near-term has a lot of mystery to it. ... The process of tapering … is more or less set. They may tweak it a little here and there along the way, but the bottom line is it's going to be a steady progression to zero."
The unemployment rate dropped to a surprise 6.7 percent and is now just 0.2 percent above the threshold at which the Fed said it could start raising rates. But Stanley said the Fed has talked down the idea that the unemployment level is a trigger point.
"I think that gives them enough flexibility that they could hold with that basic framework in place for a while," he said. "In some sense, at least for the next few months, it should be one of the quieter time frames for the Fed. ... Tapering is in place, and they likely will continue."
Stanley said the transition to a Fed led by Janet Yellen, who takes over after the January Fed meeting, will be interesting to watch. Her first public appearance may very well be the semiannual economic testimony the Fed chair delivers to Congress in February.
He added that in terms of the week's data, he expects retail sales to decline 0.1 percent, in big part because of soft auto sales.
"I don't think the underlying trend of payroll growth is 74,000," he said. "At the same time, I don't' think it's 241,000, either, and I think you have to fall back and look at the broad trends. The number has moved at 182,000 for the year and 183,000 for 2012. I think we're in the same growth path we've been in for three years."