Last week there were multiple signs of hope for the economy, notably strength in the Case/Shiller home price index while second-quarter GDP’s contraction narrowed. Among the major reports this week are car sales on August 3 (clunkers, anyone?), personal income and spending on August 4, and the July jobless rate on August 7; the consensus is that unemployment will increase from 9.5% to 9.7%.

A host of major companies reports second quarter earnings this week; promising results reported already from Barclays and HSBC are helping to propel overseas markets on August 3.

Other major announcers are Principal Financial on August 4, Freddie Mac and Prudential Financial on August 5, ManuLife and Sun Life Financial on August 6, and Allianz and Fannie Mae–and Berkshire Hathaway–on August 7.

In Washington, the House has set off on the Congressional August recess, where much will be made of pending healthcare reform. The Senate remains in session this week, and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee will hold hearings August 4 on strengthening bank supervision, hosting Sheila Bair of the FDIC and John Dugan, comptroller of the currency, among others (Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd announced July 31 that he is suffering from prostate cancer). On that same day, the Senate Finance Committee will meet to discuss climate change regulation, while on Wednesday, August 5, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairrs Committee will hold hearings on the credit rating agencies.