Stocks on Monday finished higher for the eighth straight day with the week’s biggest economic data report and one of the biggest earnings reports of the week looming on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, the April report on retail sales will be released, with economists forecasting a 0.3% increase in sales over the prior month and a 0.4% increase when stripping out gas and car sales.
Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics, however, expects that retail sales will show no growth over the prior month, citing auto sales as a likely drag on the headline number with a 0.2% increase in consumption when stripping out these numbers.
Manufacturing activity in New York state and a reading on homebuilder sentiment in May will fill out the economic data schedule on Tuesday.
And on the earnings side, results from Home Depot (HD) expected out in the morning will be one of the week’s biggest reports.
Analysts expect the home improvement retailer will report earnings per share of $2.05 on revenue of $25.2 billion, according to estimates from Bloomberg.
Bloomberg Intelligence also notes that expectations for a 5.7% increase in same-store sales could prove to be too optimistic as poor winter weather across much of the U.S. could have shifted sales into the second quarter.
The buyback bid
For eight straight days, the U.S. stock market has gone up.
Fundamentally, little has changed about the economic or earnings picture.
Before, during, and after first quarter earnings season there was ample discussion about how great the results were.
Investors’ collective lack of enthusiasm about a more than 25% increase in S&P 500 earnings year-over-year was treated as something of a curiosity. Yet if one looks at the market’s performance in 2017, there really is nothing to wonder about — all this growth was priced in last year.
The stock market’s directionless drift during the heart of first quarter earnings when about three quarters of the benchmark index reported in just a dozen or so trading days has since resolved in an upward move for stocks.
At the time, we noted that corporate buyers of stocks were likely barred from executing new share buybacks ahead of and immediately following earnings. That period has now passed. And now stocks are going up.
Corporate buyers pushing stock prices higher, then, is the simplest explanation for what’s driven the mini-rally seen in over the last week and a half that’s pushed each of the major averages back into green numbers for the year.
Keith Parker, a strategist at UBS, pointed out in a note to clients published on Monday that buyback announcements are up 80% so far this year and executions are up 49%.
Parker notes that this has increased the flow of orders for U.S. stocks with corporates buying about $30 billion worth of stock last week. Companies are expected to buy in excess of $40 billion per week by the end of the month. In total, corporate buybacks in May should total about $150 billion, more than triple what was seen in April.
So while many will look to the stock market’s daily move up or down and hand-wave towards Chinese trade tensions or fears over rising rates as the reason why stocks went up or down on a given day, the market’s direction is ultimately determined by whether more market participants would prefer to buy or sell stocks.
And right now, corporations are buying.
And stocks are going up.
Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland