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Earnings Preview: Macy's 1Q

Macy's Inc. reports its first-quarter results before the stock market opens Wednesday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Any signs that shoppers are spending more on clothing and furnishings — and company forecasts for consumer spending in coming months.

Analysts will also want to know how Macy's is adjusting its inventory to reflect shoppers' willingness to spend a bit more and whether it's seeing any price pressures as commodities such as cotton rise in price.

Also: any update on how Macy's plan to localize for various regions is faring and a status report on the company's plans to open the first Bloomingdale's bargain outlets this summer as the company aims to attract style-conscious shoppers on a budget.

WHY IT MATTERS: As the second-largest department store operator behind Sears Holdings Corp., Macy's can serve as a barometer of spending among middle-income shoppers. Any evidence that shoppers are spending more on clothing and home furnishings would offer clues into how robust the economic recovery will be.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect a profit of 2 cents per share on revenue of $5.51 billion for the first quarter.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Macy's, based in Cincinnati, posted a loss of 21 cents per share on revenue of $5.12 billion.