NEW YORK (Dow Jones) -- Boeing Co. (BA), DuPont Co. (DD), Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) are among the major companies posting quarterly results next week.

Meanwhile, economic reports are expected to show increases in September housing starts and existing-home sales, while wholesale inflation was nearly flat.

And on Thursday, Microsoft will launch its Windows 7 operating system, which could lead to a jump in computer purchases.

   Boeing, Defense Contractors Suffer In Downturn 

Weakness in commercial aviation and business jets hurt aerospace companies in the latest quarter, and defense businesses, usually cushioned by government contracts, also have been affected somewhat by the downturn. Defense contractors Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) report Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Boeing, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is expected to swing to a loss Tuesday on a record $3.5 billion in charges related to its delay-plagued programs for 747-8 jets and the 787 Dreamliner.

   DuPont, Dow Chemical Results Likely To Be Lower 

Despite signs that business is picking up, or at least stabilizing, major U.S. chemical makers are expected to report double-digit percentage profit and revenue declines for the third quarter. Dow component DuPont Co. (DD), which reports Tuesday, in July credited government-stimulus spending and customers' restocking for a slight uptick in business. Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), which posts results Thursday, also forecast an upswing in third-quarter business conditions.

   Three Big Drug Makers To Post Results 

After Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) earnings report this week showed signs of weakness in all three of its main business units, more big drug makers are scheduled to detail their third quarters next week. Pfizer, which reports Tuesday, expects higher earnings on slightly lower revenue, while Merck & Co. (MRK), which reports Thursday, is likely to post profit and revenue increases. Both companies are involved in pending mergers expected to close soon. Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), reporting Wednesday, is expected to return to the black after last year's results were hurt by legal settlements.

   Investors Await UPS Comments On Economy 

United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) posts third-quarter results Thursday, with investors eager to see if the package-delivery giant is more optimistic about the economy than when it issued a cautious outlook in July. A number of players in the transport sector, considered a bellwether of overall economic activity, have noted improving conditions recently. Railroad CSX Corp. (CSX) predicted the worst of the recession is over.

   Mixed Results Predicted For Internet Firms 

Internet companies, though not immune from the recession, haven't been nearly as hard-hit as old-line media. Among those reporting next week are Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), on Tuesday; eBay Inc. (EBAY), on Wednesday; and Inc. (AMZN), on Thursday. Internet portal Yahoo expects higher earnings but lower revenue. E-retailer's results are seen improving, while eBay's are likely to change little, though it seems to have righted its core auction business.

   Price Increases, Weak Dollar Aid Biotech Drug Makers 

Large biotech drug makers will report third-quarter results next week, beginning with Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) on Tuesday. Price increases are expected to help drive growth and the weak dollar may give a boost to many companies, which derive a significant portion of revenue from overseas. Like other health-care areas, investors are waiting to see if government-led overhaul efforts could hurt drug prices and include legislation that will clear a path to copycat versions of key biotech treatments. Also reporting are Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) on Tuesday; Genzyme Corp. (GENZ) and Amgen Inc. (AMGN), both Wednesday; and Celgene Corp. (CELG) on Thursday.

   Reports On Housing, Wholesale Inflation Data 

Economists predict small increases in September building permits and housing starts from the previous month, continuing the general trend since spring. That report is due Tuesday, a day after the National Association of Home Builders releases its October housing market index, which reflects builders' confidence in the market. Next Friday, the National Association of Realtors reports on September existing-home sales, which are forecast to grow 5.5% from a month earlier. Sales dropped in August after rising since April.

The government will issue the September Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale inflation, on Tuesday. Predictions are for a 0.1% rise, after a bigger-than-expected 1.7% increase in August. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book, which provides information about economic activity in various regions. The nonprofit Conference Board's September index of leading indicators is out Thursday.

Among appearances by Federal Reserve officials: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks Monday in Santa Barbara, Calif., and next Friday in Chatham, Mass.; Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser will speak Tuesday in Stanford, Calif.; Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will speak Wednesday, Thursday and next Friday in Chatham, Mass.; Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart will speak Thursday in Coral Gables, Fla.; New York Fed President William Dudley will speak next Friday in Chatham, Mass.; and Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn will speak next Friday in Chatham, Mass.

   Microsoft's Windows 7 Goes On Sale Thursday 

Microsoft launches its latest operating system, Windows 7, on Thursday - a day before it reports fiscal first-quarter results - and many companies are watching to see if the product will spur consumers and businesses to buy new computers. The release has been touted as an important driver of demand for PCs that use chips made by Intel Corp. (INTC), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and other semiconductor companies, which have suffered from a slump in demand starting last fall. Features of Windows 7, particularly those that allow for greater use of computer memory and enable more touch-screen features, also could increase demand for memory-chip firms, such as Micron Technology Inc. (MU) or Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE).

   Opel Sale Likely To Be Signed Next Week 

The sale of German car maker Adam Opel GmbH to a consortium led by Magna International Inc. (MGA) is expected to be signed next week, German weekly Die Welt reported ahead of publication Saturday, citing unnamed sources. The sale was delayed this week, possibly because of concerns of the European Union Commission. According to the paper, Opel's parent company, General Motors Co., and Magna want to wait for a reaction from competition commissioner Neelie Kroes.

   SEC To Consider Rules On 'Dark Pools' 

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday will start weighing regulations to shed more light on nonpublic trading entities such as "dark pools," or private electronic networks that match orders anonymously. The move is part of a broader push by the SEC to examine market structure issues to ensure that traders all have fair access. Already the SEC has voted to consider banning flash trades, which allow some traders to get a sneak peak at market activity.

   Senate May Vote On Fix For Medicare Payments 

The Senate is set to take up a bill as soon as next week that would provide a 10-year, $247 billion fix to pay physicians under Medicare, in a move that would keep the costly changes from adding to the price tag of broader health care-overhaul legislation. The bill would avoid steep drops scheduled in future years for physician payments in the program.

   House Panel To Vote On Consumer Agency Bill 

The House Financial Services Committee is expected to vote on legislation to create a new consumer agency and improve investor protection next week. Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said a hearing on systemic risk legislation, scheduled Tuesday, will be pushed back a week to accommodate the other measures.


Among the significant conferences next week are the SRA Fall Growth Stock Conference on Monday in New York, Bank of America Merrill Lynch LatAm Small Cap 1-1 Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York, and New York Society of Security Analysts Investing in Brazil Conference on Thursday in New York.

-By Kathy Shwiff, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2357;

(Thomas Gryta, Bob Sechler and other Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this report.)