Economic Calendar - Top 5 Things to Watch This Week

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Economic Calendar - Top 5 Things to Watch This Week
Credit: © Reuters.

By Jesse Cohen - Market participants are bracing for heightened volatility as the coming week will be dominated by several market-moving events, including a deluge of earnings news, and the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting.


There is also important first quarter U.S. growth data this week, which should lend further support to the notion that the economy is continuing to recover from its virus-related slowdown.


New spending and tax proposals from the White House will also be in focus.


Ahead of the coming week, has compiled a list of these and other significant events likely to affect the markets.


1. FAAMG + Tesla TSLA Earnings


There are about 180 S&P 500 companies, including 10 Dow components, reporting corporate results in what will be the busiest week of the first quarter earnings season on Wall Street.


Most of the focus will be on the five big-name mega-cap tech companies - Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ), and Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) - collectively known as the ‘FAAMG’ group of stocks.


All five are set to enjoy another quarter of blockbuster earnings and sales growth, given their growing dominance in the tech space.


Software and cloud giant Microsoft and internet search titan Google are both expected to release their latest numbers on Tuesday after the markets close. 


Tech and consumer electronics conglomerate Apple and social media company Facebook then follow with their respective earnings after the bell on Wednesday.


E-commerce and cloud behemoth Amazon is slated to release Q1 results after the market closes on Thursday.  


Meanwhile, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) - the sixth most valuable company listed on the New York Stock Exchange - reports on Monday.


Some of other high-profile tech names reporting this week are Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD ), Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ), Pinterest (NYSE: PINS ), Shopify (NYSE: SHOP ), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY ), Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM ), and Texas Instruments (NASDAQ: TXN ).


2. Boeing, Caterpillar , GE Highlight Blue Chip Earnings


Staying on the earnings front, a diverse group of blue chips, such as Boeing (NYSE: BA ), Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ), General Electric (NYSE: GE ), 3M Company (NYSE: MMM ), Visa (NYSE: V ), Mastercard (NYSE: MA ), and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS ) will also report their latest quarterly results this week.


Q1 reports from restaurant operators McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD ), Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX ), and Domino’s Pizza (NYSE: DPZ ) are also on the agenda, as are corporate results from automakers Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F ), and Nio (NYSE: NIO ).


Pharmaceutical companies, like AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN ), Merck (NYSE: MRK ), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY ), and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD ) are all on the docket as well.


Finally, Big Oil majors, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ), are both set to round up the week when they release their latest earnings on Friday.


The Q1 corporate earnings season has gotten off to a strong start, with 86% of companies reporting earnings beats so far, according to Refinitiv.


3. Federal Reserve Rate Decision


The Federal Reserve is not expected to take any action on interest rates at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting at 2:00PM ET on Wednesday, keeping it in a range between 0.0%-0.25%.


Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold what will be a closely watched press conference 30 minutes after the release of the Fed's statement .


Powell is widely expected to defend the central bank’s policy of letting inflation rise above its 2% target, reiterating his message that the recent pick-up in prices is seen as temporary.


4. U.S. Advanced Q1 GDP


Investors will keep an eye on a preliminary reading of first quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for fresh clues on the strength of the economy.


The data is expected to show the economy expanded at an annual rate of 6.5% in the January-March period, accelerating from growth of 4.3% in the previous quarter.


The report is due at 8:30AM ET Thursday.


5. U.S. PCE Inflation Data


The Commerce Department will publish data on personal income and spending for March, which include the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inflation figures, at 8:30AM ET Friday.


The consensus forecast is that the report will show that the core PCE price index - the Fed's preferred metric for inflation - inched up 0.3% , after rising by 0.1% a month earlier.


On an annualized basis, core PCE prices are expected to rise 1.8% .


The U.S. central bank uses core PCE as a tool to help determine whether to raise or lower interest rates, with the aim of keeping inflation at a rate of 2% or below.


Other top-tier economic data due this week includes the CB consumer confidence report, initial jobless claims, durable goods orders, and pending home sales.


Beyond the economic calendar, investors will also keep an eye for any fresh headlines surrounding U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure spending package and tax proposals.


Biden is expected to detail his “American Families Plan” and the tax hikes to pay for it, including a much higher capital gains tax for the rich, when he addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening.


-- Reuters contributed to this report

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