Markets ended another volatile week mixed, pummeled by concerns about global growth but buoyed by better-than-expected earnings results. For the week, the S&P 500 ended flat, the Dow lost 0.82%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.39%.1
As of last Friday, just under half the S&P 500 companies had reported earnings, and the vast majority (69% and 63%, respectively) had beaten both earnings and revenue expectations.2 Though there were some high profile-earnings misses, the overall picture seems to be one of redemption and resilience. The percentage of better-than-expected results are up from the first quarter, meaning company growth likely accelerated; it’s also a good sign for future expectations, given that the economy is doing much better overall than it did earlier in the year.
That being said, some red flags about economic growth were raised last week. Mixed business spending data – a core component of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculations – may erode Q2 economic growth. While businesses spent more on core capital goods like computer equipment and automobiles, the value of shipments declined for the third month in a row, which led the International Monetary Fund to cut its 2014 U.S. growth forecast.3 On the other hand, durable goods inventories rose 0.4%, which is a great improvement over the slow inventory growth that contributed to the Q1 economic contraction.4 We’ll know more after this week’s official GDP report.
The week ahead may be the busiest of the summer, with over 140 S&P 500 companies releasing earnings.5 The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday to ponder next steps in monetary policy. Will they announce another $10 million taper to bond purchases? Probably. But, their comments will tell us a lot about how they feel about the economy.
The economic calendar is also full of major reports. Traders will get their first look at official Q2 GDP numbers on Wednesday as well as the July Employment Situation report on Friday. Given global worries about economic growth, we can expect some volatility as traders hedge their bets ahead of the data.
Monday: Pending Home Sales Index, Dallas Fed Mfg. Survey
Tuesday: S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, GDP, EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Meeting Announcement
Thursday: Jobless Claims, Employment Cost Index, Chicago PMI
Friday: Motor Vehicle Sales, Employment Situation, Personal Income and Outlays, PMI Manufacturing Index, Consumer Sentiment, ISM Mfg. Index, Construction Spending
Stiffer sanctions rattle Europe. The prospect of new sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine is shaking European confidence over economic growth. Europe is Russia’s biggest trading partner, and sanctions could bite deeply into European growth.6
New home sales drop sharply. Sales of new single-family homes fell 8.1% in June to the lowest level since June 2013; May numbers were also revised downward, suggesting that the housing market is still losing steam.7
Nationwide, layoffs are rarer. Improving economic prospects and confidence among employers is translating to fewer layoffs, as evidenced by the lowest levels of new unemployment applications seen since 2006. Will this be a turning point in the labor market recovery?8
Consumer inflation rises. Consumer prices, a measure of inflation, rose in June with skyrocketing gasoline prices. However, core inflation, which excludes volatile categories like food and fuel, remained consistent with a gradual increase due to healthy economic expansion.9