Coronavirus and its impact on markets will take centerstage again on Tuesday. Stocks were off to a rough start as the ongoing pandemic, formally known as COVID-19, continued to wreak havoc on global markets. Monday, the Dow (^DJI) tanked 2,997 points for its worst-ever point loss in history, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) plunged 11.98% and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) tumbled 12.32%.
Even as much of the economic data releases this week are backward looking in nature, February’s retail sales figures will still provide some clues on the health of the U.S. consumer before the outbreak roiled global economies. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect February retail sales rose 0.2%, down from a 0.3% increase in January.
“The current month has the potential to be a blowout for retail sales given anecdotal evidence of unavailable parking and long lines at grocery stores and discount warehouses. The ‘prepper’ mentality has gone mainstream amid reports of shortages of essentials like toilet paper,” Wells Fargo wrote in a note March 13.
“Of course, the offset here is obvious with restaurants and bars clearing out as consumers follow guidelines from the CDC to avoid unnecessary public contact and observe social distancing. In the longer run, consumer spending, particularly goods-spending is headed much lower in the months to come,” the firm added.
Other notable economic releases scheduled for Tuesday include the following: Industrial production MoM, February (0.4% expected, -0.3% in January); Capacity utilization, February (77.1% expected, 76.8% in January), JOLTS job openings, January (6,401 expected, 6,423 in December); NAHB Housing Market Index, March (74 expected, 74 in February)
Investors will turn their attention to economic bellwether FedEx (FDX) when it reports fiscal third quarter results after the market close.
The COVID-19 outbreak has taken no prisoners, and FedEx is likely to have felt the heat as global supply chains were rocked in recent months. Analysts predict that FedEx’s third-quarter adjusted EPS target is likely at risk due to the impact from the coronavirus.
“In terms of the cadence of EPS performance, UPS, FedEx, and Expeditors would have seen the impact of the Chinese manufacturing curtailments beginning on January 31 almost immediately, in contrast to domestic US transportation companies that only began to see import container weakness during the week ending February 29,” Loop Capital Markets analyst Rick Paterson wrote in a note March 12.
FedEx is expected to report adjusted earnings of $1.43 per share on $16.92 billion in revenue, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. Shares of the freight giant have tanked 35% so far this year and have underperformed the broader market’s 21% decline in the same time period.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.
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