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Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead

EconomyOct 24, 2021 13:04
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By Noreen Burke -- The week ahead brings earnings reports from several tech giants including Amazon and Apple. There are also some key economic reports in the coming week, including a first look at U.S. third quarter GDP on Thursday. The European Central Bank holds its latest meeting against a background of persistent inflation pressures. Evergrande has bought another week to deal with the looming debt crisis casting a shadow over the world’s second largest economy and the Bitcoin rollercoaster rolls on. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. Big tech earnings

Four out of the five FAANG stocks are set to report earnings during the week - Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is set to report on Monday, followed by Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) on Tuesday, while Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are reporting on Thursday.

FAANG's stellar growth and heavy weighting in the S&P 500 has given them an outsized impact on the broader equities market, propelling markets higher for over than a decade.

Strong earnings results could help tech stocks broaden the lead they have established over value stocks in a market tug of war, with stock investors caught between a strong economic recovery and surging commodity prices on one side, and rising Treasury yields and inflation on the other.

  1. U.S. GDP

Data on Thursday is expected to show the extent of the headwinds that hit the U.S. economy in the third quarter. Economists are forecasting that GDP growth slowed to 2.8% from 6.7% in the previous three months.

The impact of the delta variant, along with rising prices, supply chain strains and labor shortages contributed to the soft patch in growth, but those effects should dissipate in the fourth quarter.

Other economic data to watch during the week includes reports on durable goods orders on Wednesday, initial jobless claims on Thursday and personal income and expenditures on Friday. Friday’s data includes the core PCE price index, rumored to be the Federal Reserve's favorite inflation measure.

Economic data will be closely watched as it is coming just before the Federal Reserve’s November meeting the following week, where the central bank is expected to announce plans to begin cutting back on asset purchases, an important first step towards eventual rate hikes.

  1. ECB meeting

The ECB is to hold its next policy meeting on Thursday amid tensions between officials over how long an inflation surge in the euro area is likely to last and whether the bank should tweak monetary policy as a result.

At its last meeting in September policymakers deferred a decision on bond purchases to December, but since then euro area inflation has surged to a 13-year high amid supply bottlenecks and soaring energy prices.

The Fed is likely to start tapering in November and the Bank of England has indicated that interest rate hikes are coming soon so the question is, will the ECB follow?

Thursday’s post policy meeting press conference with ECB head Christine Legarde will likely give investors a clue into December’s decision.

  1. Evergrande buys time

Reuters reported Sunday that China’s Evergrande had resumed work on more than 10 projects in six cities, including Shenzhen.

The report came after the company appeared to avert a default last week, when it made a last-minute bond coupon payment, but there have still been no reports on progress about a comprehensive restructuring of the company’s massive debt pile.

China's second-largest property developer is mired in a debt crisis, with more than $300 billion in liabilities.

The crisis at Evergrande has spread across the broader Chinese property sector, which economists say makes up around 30% of the economy, leading to a string of default announcements, rating downgrades, and slumping corporate bonds.

  1. Bitcoin volatility

Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $67,016 on Wednesday, rising above April’s record propelled by bets the first U.S. bitcoin futures exchange traded funds would pave the way for more money to pour into digital assets.

The new ETFs track bitcoin futures rather than the cash price.

The new peak came after the world’s largest digital currency had struggled in recent months, briefly dipping below $30,000 as China cracked down on digital currencies.

Bitcoin advocates believe the onset of ETFs will support prices. Others tout the digital currency as a hedge against inflation and say that is a bigger factor in its rally, but sceptics say it is more of a symptom.

Either way, bitcoin volatility looks set to continue.

--Reuters contributed to this report

Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead

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