On the radar
What to watch in the weeks ahead
(Fortune Magazine) -- Ghosn's Gamble
Nissan (Charts)'s rollout of eight new models in the next six months will be a big test for ambitious CEO Carlos Ghosn. This fall Nissan will attempt to revive its flagging first-half sales with updated versions of popular cars, like the Sentra and Altima in the U.S. and the Skyline in Japan. Investors will be paying close attention not only to how the models sell but also to how they drive: Analysts worry that Ghosn's aggressive cost cutting and factory expansion in the U.S. - once highlights of Nissan's miraculous turnaround - have sapped product quality. In the past year Nissan has had three model recalls. Someone else will be watching too: GM CEO Rick Wagoner. If Nissan gets back on track, Ghosn will have a much stronger hand in negotiating his proposed alliance with the U.S. auto giant. GM has until Oct. 15 to respond.
Economy on Target?
For a snapshot of where the economy is heading, keep an eye on Target (Charts), which announces its monthly sales results on Aug. 31. Target is considered a key barometer of the underlying health of U.S. consumers, as its sales of low-cost, high-cachet merchandise are thought to be mostly immune from far-off worries like tensions in the Middle East. But in July, Target said the pace of sales had slowed. If that keeps up during back-to-school August, markets may start to believe talk of a coming recession.
The Futures Market
Sept. 1 Panasonic begins selling (in Japan) the biggest plasma TV ever. At 103 inches, it's as large as a queen-sized bed. Pick one up in the U.S. in December for a mere $70,000.
Sept. 10 NBC kicks off its new Sunday Night Football with a stroke of programming genius: Brothers Eli and Peyton Manning face off for the first time.
Sept. 19 China will push for - and get - more decision-making power at the IMF/World Bank's meeting in Singapore.