Apple earnings are a highlight in action-packed week that includes Fed meeting, jobs report

30-04-2018

Apple earnings are a highlight in action-packed week that includes Fed meeting, jobs report

The coming week promises to be action-packed for investors, with earnings, the Fed, April's jobs report and trade talks all capable of moving the markets. More than one-fifth of the S&P 500 companies report earnings, including bellwether Apple on Tuesday, and that could be an important turning point for a whole swath of the tech industry that has been worried about its phone sales. McDonald's, Tesla, Merck and CVS Health are among the dozens of others reporting. The Fed meets Tuesday and Wednesday, and while it's not expected to hike rates or say much new, traders will be looking for any hints on how it views inflation and the economy in its statement. The Fed is expected to raise rates at its June meeting. There's a gusher of economic reports, including the April employment report Friday. Personal consumption data is released Monday, and that includes the inflation report the Fed watches most. There are also car sales and ISM manufacturing data Tuesday. Trade issues will be in the headlines as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other officials head to China in an effort to stave off escalation of a tit-for-tat trade war. There could be news on the North American Free Trade Agreement as negotiators continue to push for a resolution, and that would be a positive for the markets if there's more of a framework for agreement.

Stocks ended the past week flat to lower, with the S&P 500 barely changed at 2,669, after a week of wild gyrations. The Dow lost 0.6 percent to 24,311, and the Nasdaq was off 0.4 at 7,119. There are more than 130 S&P companies reporting earnings, but Apple is the one everyone is watching. The stock has been slammed and is now down more than 4 percent for the year and more than 10 percent from its 52-week high. "I can't see it being bad. We priced in too much bad news," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR. Earnings have been strong this quarter, and are now expected to grow at 24.6 percent on revenue growth of 8.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Hogan said other issues have been preoccupying the market and it hasn't responded all that much to earnings, but it could find positive news among the headlines in the week ahead. "Happy talk on the Korean peninsula and optimism on NAFTA could work its way in," he said.

The Trump administration officials heading to China do so just after a historic meeting between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea. President Donald Trump has been positive about China's help with the Korean situation, and strategists expect the meetings with U.S. officials in China to be perceived as positive. "My sense is we can de-escalate from a big trade war, but there's going to be tensions for a long time. China is going to be a good host," said Marc Chandler, head of foreign exchange strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. "I think the problem is not with China's declaratory policy — what they say. The challenge is the operational policy — what they do." Friday's employment report will be the highlight of the week's data, and economists expect the economy added 195,000 jobs, up from 103,000 in March. "I have a strong jobs number, 225,000. I think this month we'll finally get 4 percent on the unemployment rate. We've been stuck at 4.1 since October," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont. Stanley said March's weak payrolls number was payback for a strong February report but also due to bad winter storms. "It feels like we're on a swing here." He expects hiring to remain strong and the economy to grow at a better pace than the 2.3 percent growth reported for the first quarter on Friday. "Certainly 2017 was the best year of the cycle, and I think 2018 will be even better. I do think tax cuts will provide a boost for consumer spending," he said. "The overall fiscal situation is being viewed by everybody as a positive. I think we could hit 3 percent [growth] this year. The first quarter is always the low quarter, and instead of being 1 percent, it was 2.3 percent."