Next week could be one of the last busy weeks of this earnings season, with reports from major retailers including Walmart, Home Depot, and Target. On Tuesday, the Census Bureau will issue data on nationwide retail sales for July, indicating whether consumer spending held up last month. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from the latest FOMC meeting, which could offer clues as to the trajectory of monetary policy. The latest updates on the housing market will include building permits and housing starts for July, and the NAHB’s Housing Market Index for August. Lastly, we’ll get inflation and GDP readings from the U.K., eurozone, and Japan.

Retail Earnings and Sales
Big-box retailers including Walmart, Home Depot, and Target report earnings next week, and earnings from these companies are often used as a proxy for retail sales and overall consumer spending. If they beat expectations, it could signal that the U.S. consumer remains in good shape.

On Tuesday, the Census Bureau will also issue more comprehensive data on nationwide retail sales for July, indicating whether consumer spending held up last month. Retail sales, which are not adjusted for inflation, likely rose 0.4% last month, which would mark the fourth consecutive month of gains. They’re projected to have risen just 1% year-over-year, which would mark the slowest annual growth rate since the pandemic-related declines of early 2020. The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts retail spending will grow between 4% and 6% in 2023, to a range of $5.13 to $5.23 trillion, after rising 7% last year.

FOMC Meeting Minutes
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release meeting minutes from the latest FOMC meeting held July 25-26, where policymakers hiked interest rates by a quarter of a percent in what was the 11th and likely final rate hike in the current tightening cycle. The minutes could offer projections as to the future course of monetary policy, and whether Fed officials intend to raise rates further to bring inflation closer to the central bank’s 2% target. Markets are pricing in a 90% probability that the Fed will hold rates steady at the next policy meeting in September, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

Housing Indicators
We’ll get the latest updates on the housing market next week, including July building permits and housing starts, and the NAHB’s Housing Market Index for August. Housing starts are projected to have risen slightly to 1.44 million last month, up from 1.43 million in June. The NAHB’s Housing Market Index is expected to hold steady at a reading of 56. The index, which is based on a survey of homebuilders and reflects future sales expectations, has now risen for seven straight months after bottoming out in December, as housing demand rebounds despite rising mortgage rates and limited inventory.