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Week Ahead: Retail Giants in Focus in Tail End of Earnings Season

The end of the first-quarter earnings season is approaching and it's the retail sector's chance in the spotlight.

It could be a rough one for retailers as the U.S. consumer remains cautious, showing a tendency to save instead of spend. Retail sales fell 0.3% in March as consumers cut back on purchases of big-ticket items including cars. Excluding autos, sales ticked up 0.1%. Not exactly the most spend-happy consumer for retailers' first quarter, the period generally from early February to the end of April.

Data on retail sales for April, due on Friday, are expected to show a slight improvement, though, as auto sales grow and higher gas prices alleviate pressures on inflation. Consensus is for a 0.9% increase in April. Core sales, excluding autos and fuel, should advance 0.3%.

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"Consumer spending will receive a boost from stronger auto sales and higher gasoline prices," TD Securities analysts wrote in a note. "The underlying tone of this report should be quite constructive, pointing to a rebound in consumer spending...