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Look Ahead: Awaiting JPMorgan and Inflation Data

The pressure is on JPMorgan Chase.

A New York Stock Exchange trader.
Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
A New York Stock Exchange trader.

Intel delivered a home run with its after-the-bell earnings report late Thursday, beating estimates on both the top and bottom line. Now JPMorgan is on deck with its fourth-quarter earnings report, widely anticipated by the market and likely to be a catalyst for stocks Friday.

Intel shares jumped in the after-hours session, and could help tech shares Friday. Intel said it earned $0.40 per share on revenues of $10.6 billion. Intel also reported margins of 65 percent, a level not seen in nearly a decade. Tech is expected to be a bright spot this quarter, and Intel is seen as a bellwether for the group.

Stocks meandered again Thursday in quiet trading. The Dow finished up 29 at 10,710 and the S&P 500 rose 2 to 1148. Health care was the best performer, up 0.8 percent, followed by tech, up 0.7 percent. Financials were next best, up 0.6 percent. Intel was up 2.5 percent ahead of its report, and JPMorgan was higher on the day along with other banks.

"There's an anticipatory pause here," said Peter McCorry, who trades bank stocks for Keefe Bruyette. "

"...There's not a lot of margin for error for JPMorgan...There's some high hopes on JPMorgan, and that hope is that they come through." JPMorgan is expected to report profit of $0.61 per share.

"Of all the banks, JPMorgan is the least risky and less likely to miss its numbers," said another trader. "On the flip side, it's the third day in a row that credit markets have traded on the wider side."

It's the Economy

Inflation is also high on the agenda Friday, as the consumer price index tops the economic calendar at 8:30am. It is expected to show an increase of 0.2 percent, or 0.1 percent minus energy and food. The Empire State survey is also reported at 8:30am. Industrial production is reported at 9:15am and consumer sentiment is reported at 9:55am.

Banks will also be in the news Friday, as credit card issuers release monthly master trust data, which is a window on the consumer and will show how card issuers are faring with delinquencies.

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