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What to Watch in the Week Ahead and on Monday, Aug. 17

(The Day Ahead is an email and PDF publication that includes the day's major stories and events, analyses and other features. To receive The Day Ahead, Eikon users can register at . Thomson One users can register at RT/DAY/US. All times in ET/GMT) WEEK AHEAD The stragglers for the earnings season - Home Depot, Wal-Mart and a few others - will report results to close out the quarter next week, with expectations that retailers would see decent sales after recent revisions show better-than-expected activity in the second quarter. The markets will also continue to watch the Chinese yuan after its unexpected devaluation this week, with anticipation that the dollar will strengthen a bit more, boosting bond-market activity in what is otherwise expected to be a slower week.

Fed minutes are released on Wednesday and will be parsed for clues of an interest rate rise. The Changes in the July statement pointed to an improving economy and labor markets. Characterization of the debate in the minutes could indicate how firm opinions are about the state of the U.S., and how confident members are that inflation and employment will move towards the Fed's target levels. Investors will also look for the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index on Wednesday, which is expected to have increased 0.2 percent in July, a bit down from a rise of 0.3 percent in June. Housing data, including housing starts and building permits on Tuesday and existing home sales on Thursday will be in focus. The Conference Board releases its Leading Economic Index, a gauge of future U.S. economic activity on Thursday.

Retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp release its results for the second quarter. Wal-Mart is expected to report better-than-expected quarterly sales on Tuesday, while Target is expected to miss estimates when it reports on Wednesday. Also on Tuesday, TJX Cos Inc is expected to report second-quarter profit and sales above analysts' average estimates. The off-price retailer is expected to be helped by lower gas prices, wage growth, and higher traffic to its stores as more consumers hunt for bargains. A hike in the number and quality of brands in its stores and merchandise that reflects popular fashion trends is also expected to drive sales. Investors will look for third-quarter forecast, commentary on industry trends and plans to expand in international markets.

Home Depot Inc, the world's No. 1 home improvement chain, is likely to report second-quarter sales below analysts' average estimate on Tuesday. Strong housing market data over the last few months is expected to have kept overall demand for home improvement goods steady. However, record rainfall in May and June in large parts of the United States is likely to have kept a lid on sales of products in the home exterior improvement categories, such as paint and gardening supplies. Lowe's Companies Inc, the second-largest U.S. home improvement chain, is likely to report second-quarter sales below analysts' average estimates on Wednesday.

Hardware and software maker Hewlett-Packard Co is expected to report third-quarter earnings slightly above analysts' average estimate on Thursday. HP has been cutting costs and focusing on higher-margin sales in the face of a strong dollar...