Trade could be the biggest catalyst in week ahead

Market Insider

The earnings deluge continues and inflation reports are due, but it will be the tone of trade talks in Beijing that could have the biggest impact on markets in the week ahead.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin head to China, as the U.S. and Chinese still appear to be far apart on trade differences, ahead of a March 1 deadline on new tariffs.

Stocks were spooked Thursday and were weak Friday after White House top economic adivsor Larry Kudlow said differences between the two countries are “pretty sizeable” and the White House confirmed there are no plans yet for President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping to meet.

“I think it’s a very big deal, but I think this whole process is one to manage expectations, and the market, I think, is being set up for positive news. I think if some good news comes out next week, it will be a very positive event for the market. If not we could see some sideways volatility,” said Don Townswick, head of equities at global investment management firm Conning.

Earnings will continue to rumble in from names including Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, as another 60 S&P 500 companies report. Earnings for the fourth quarter have been up about 16 percent, but S&P 500 companies have warned that expectations were too high and now first quarter earnings are likely to show an actual decline.

“Obviously, last year’s earnings were supercharged. This year, what looks like a negative year in terms of earnings growth is relative to last year,” Townswick said. Many strategists point to the massive corporate tax cuts as being a big contributor to the pop in 2018 earnings growth, which reached 23 percent.

Besides earnings, there is some important data, particularly December’s retail sales Friday and CPI consumer inflation Wednesday. Producer inflation is expected on Thursday. The inflation data will be especially important after the Fed indicated, following its January meeting, that it was willing to pause in its rate hiking and that inflation remain subdued.

Monday

Earnings: Diamond Offshore, CNA Financial, Vornado Realty, RingCentral, Molina Healthcare, FMC, Everest Re, Chegg, Kemper

Tuesday

Earnings: Occidental Petroleum, Akamai, Groupon, Fossil, Activision Blizzard, Lattice Semiconductor, Shipify, PG&E, Molson Coors, Martin Marietta Materials, Dean Foods, TripAdvisor

6 a.m. NFIB survey

10 a.m. JOLTS

2 p.m. Federal Budget

6:30 p.m. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester

7:30 p.m. Kansas City Fed President Esther George

Wednesday

Earnings: AIG, Cisco Systems, International Flavors and Fragrances, Yelp, Williams Cos, Pioneer Natural Resources, MGM Resorts, Marathon Oil, Charles River Labs, Gannett, Global Payments, Interpublic, Hilton, Hyatt, Applied Materials

8:30 a.m. CPI

8:50 a.m. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic

8:50 a.m. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester

Thursday

Earnings: Coca-Cola, CBS, AstraZeneca, Airbus, Nestle, Ameren, CME Group, Borg Warner, Encana, Duke Energy, TransCanada, Vulcan Materials, GNC Holdings, MGM growth Properties, Sonoco Products, Avon Products, Waste Management, Cognex, TruceCar

8:30 a.m. Initial claims

8:30 a.m. PPI

Friday

Earnings: PepsiCo, Deere, Moody’s, VF Corp, Choice Hotels, Moody’s, Eni, Allianz, Owens and Minor, Baidu,
Yamana Gold, Boyd Gaming, Newell Brands

8:30 a.m. Retail sales
8:30 a.m. Import prices 8:30 a.m. Empire State manufacturing survey 9:15 a.m. Industrial production 10 a.m. Consumer sentiment 10 a.m. Business inventories 4 p.m. TIC data

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