The busiest week of the year for investors is here.
A jam-packed week of market-moving developments awaits traders in the coming days, headlined by the Fed, tech earnings, and key economic data.
The Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting is set to take place this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, July 26-27, with the central bank expected to raise interest rates another 75 basis points.
On the earnings side, some of the S&P 500’s most heavily-weighted components — including Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Meta Platforms (FB), Apple (AAPL), and Amazon (AMZN) — are among more than 170 companies scheduled to report second-quarter results through Friday.
Also in the spotlight will be Thursday's advance estimate of second quarter GDP as market participants continue to debate whether a recession is already underway. Economists expect this report to show the U.S. economy grew at an annualized pace of 0.5% last quarter, according to estimates from Bloomberg.
All three major U.S. indexes logged gains last week after broad-based advances across sectors. On Tuesday, 98% of stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 advanced, the most since December 26, 2018, the first trading day after the market bottom that occurred on December 24, 2018, according to data from LPL Financial.
Recent gains have pushed up the index by roughly 6% since June 16, stoking optimism among some investors that the worst of the recent market downturn is over.
“While breadth has been rather unimpressive during the market’s rally since the June lows, days like Tuesday are exactly what we are looking for, and can go a long way towards changing the character of this market,” LPL strategist Scott Brown said in a note. “To be clear, the S&P 500 is not out of the woods yet.”
Tuesday pushed the index to a close above the 50-day moving average for the first time since April 20, but it remained just short of the late-June intraday highs, Brown pointed out.
If the Federal Reserve proceeds with hiking rates three quarters of a percentage point later this week, the Federal funds rate will have moved from near 0% less than five months ago to a range of 2.25%-2.5% — a level in line with most officials’ estimates of the long-run neutral.
“The Fed has told us they’re unlikely to let up on the brakes until they see a convincing shift in the trajectory of monthly inflation readings that would signal progress towards the Fed’s 2% target,” PGIM Fixed Income lead economist Ellen Gaske said in emailed comments. “We expect Powell will likely reiterate that message at his post-meeting press conference.”
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is set to deliver remarks at 2:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, shortly after the U.S. central bank’s policy decision comes out at 2:00 p.m. ET.
“We suspect it’s likely too soon for the Fed to convey a much more forward-looking point of view, as the most recent inflation readings still showed high and widespread price pressures,” Gaske said. “But with each additional hike from here, the lagged effects of the Fed’s tightening measures will be increasingly important to consider.”
Last month, U.S. consumer prices again accelerated at the fastest annual pace since November 1981. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (CPI) reflected a year-over-year increase of 9.1% in June’s reading, marking the highest print of the inflation cycle.
Economists at Goldman Sachs said in a note last week that inflation expectations have notably softened since the FOMC last met in June, referencing downward revisions to the University of Michigan’s final read on 5-10 year inflation expectations, a decline in the survey’s preliminary July figure, and a “material” downtrend in market-based measures of inflation.
“This softening of inflation expectations is one reason why we expect the FOMC will not accelerate the near-term hiking pace and will deliver a 75bp hike at the July FOMC meeting,” Goldman economists led by Jan Hatzius said.
In addition to the Fed and earnings, investors will closely watch the government’s first estimate of gross domestic product – the broadest measure of economic activity — for the second quarter, set for release Thursday morning.
The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s latest GDPNow estimate for Q2 GDP on July 19, showed the economy likely shrank 1.6% last quarter. If realized, this decline would mark the second-consecutive quarter of negative economic growth and affirm to some strategists that the economy has entered a recession.
According to data from Bloomberg, Wall Street economists expect GDP grew at an annualized pace of 0.5% last quarter.
On the earnings front, results from the mega-caps will be closely watched, though hundreds of other names will draw investor attention during one of the busiest weeks for corporate results of the year. In addition to performance for the most recent three-month periods, remarks from tech heavyweights on hiring plans or other adjustments to their outlooks related to macroeconomic headwinds will be closely tracked.
In recent weeks, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Meta have all said they would scale back on hiring across certain areas.
According to FactSet Research, 21% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported second-quarter earnings through Friday, with only 68% presenting actual earnings per share above estimates — below the five-year average of 77%. Any earnings beats have also, in aggregate, been only 3.6% above estimates, less than half of the five-year average of 8.8%.
Monday: Chicago Fed national activity index (June), Dallas Fed manufacturing business index (June)
Tuesday: House price index (May), S&P Case-Shiller national home price index (May), Conference Board consumer confidence index (July), New home sales (June), Richmond manufacturing index (June)
Wednesday: MBA mortgage applications (week ended July 22), Durable goods orders (June), Retail inventories (June), Wholesale inventories (June), Pending home sales (June), FOMC statement, Fed interest rate decision, Fed Chair Jerome Powell press conference
Thursday: GDP (Q2 advance estimate), Initial jobless claims (week ended July 22), Continuing claims (week ended July 15), Kansas City Fed composite index (July)
Friday: Core PCE price index (June), PCE price index (June), Personal income (June), Personal spending (June), Real personal consumption (June), Chicago PMI (July), UMich consumer sentiment index (July preliminary), UMich 5-year inflation expectations (July preliminary)
Tuesday: Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Coca-Cola (KO), McDonald’s (MCD), General Motors (GM), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Mondelez International (MDLZ), UPS (UPS), 3M (MMM), PulteGroup (PHM), Texas Instruments (TXN), General Electric (GE), Ameriprise Financial (AMP), Raytheon Technologies (RTX), Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Chubb (CB), Canadian National Railway, Pentair (CNI), Paccar (PCAR), Kimberly-Clark (KMB), Albertsons (ACI), Teradyne (TER), Ashland (ASH), Boston Properties (BXP), FirstEnergy (FE), Visa (V)
Wednesday: Meta Platforms (META), Boeing (BA), Ford (F), Etsy (ETSY), Qualcomm (QCOM), T-Mobile (TMUS), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Kraft Heinz (KH), Hilton Worldwide (HLT), Boston Scientific (BSX), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), Fortune Brands (FBH), Flex (FLEX), Hess Corporation (HES), Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC), Netgear (NTGR), Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), American Water Works (AWK), Ryder System (R), Genuine Parts (GPC), Waste Management (WM), Community Health Systems (CYH), Molina Healthcare (MOH), Owens Corning (OC)
Thursday: Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Pfizer (PFE), Honeywell (HON), Mastercard (MA), Comcast (CMCSA), Intel (INTC), Roku (ROKU), Merck (MRK), Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP), Hertz Global (HTZ), T.Rowe Price (TROW), Valero Energy (VLO), Northrop Grumman (NOC), V.F. Corporation (VFC), Frontier Group (ULCC), Southwest Air (LUV), Harley-Davidson (HOG), Shell (SHEL), Stanley Black and Decker (SWK), Carlyle Group (CG), Lazard (LAZ), International Paper (IP), Sirius XM (SIRI), Hershey (HSY), PG&E (PCG), Hartford Financial (HIG), Celanese (CE)
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc