Market Preview: A “Patient” Fed Sparks Market Rally

Markets staged a rally Friday, recovering from Thursday losses brought on by Apple’s (AAPL) earnings warning. Following comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, at a panel presentation with former Fed Chairs Yellen and Bernanke, that the Fed would watch the data and “be patient” with interest rates, markets kicked into high gear and rallied into the close. The DJIA finished almost 750 points higher and the Nasdaq jumped over 4% as markets rejoiced over what many hope is a softening stance at the Fed.

The comments were enough to overcome continued rancor in Washington as Democrats met with President Trump to discuss the federal budget and the ongoing partial government shutdown. Democrats emerged from the meeting commenting the President had said the shutdown could last for “months or years”. Investors will be watching meetings between China and the U.S. over the weekend for any possible break in negotiations over tariffs. A deal announcement, or even positive news on the tariff front, could fuel a further market rebound.

Commercial Metals Company (CMC) reports earnings Monday. The company painted a rosy picture for investors in its last conference call, reporting its “best quarterly performance since the great recession.” With operations in the U.S. and Poland, analysts will be looking for a gauge on both markets to help paint a picture of industrial vigor. With recent manufacturing numbers showing softness, CMC may be able to provide some clarity given what the the business seeing headed into the first quarter.  

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, and the TD Ameritrade Investor Movement Index will both be released Monday. The scheduled release of factory orders will be delayed barring an end to the partial government shutdown. Analysts will have a keen interest in the December TD Ameritrade numbers as other measurements have indicated investors dumped stocks heading into year end 2018.

The rest of the week is data heavy as investors take on the first full week of trading in 2019. Tuesday, the small business optimism index and JOLTS numbers will be released. The release of a better than expected jobs number Friday, which initially goosed markets higher in the morning, will have analysts watching the job openings number closely. Mortgage application data, and the Fed meeting minutes, will be released on Wednesday. Investors are still wary of the housing market, which many hope will find some footing in 2019.

Jobless claims and wholesale trade numbers will both be released Thursday. Friday, analysts will focus on CPI, the Baker-Hughes rig count data, and the Treasury Budget. Analysts will be watching the rig count number closely to determine what impact the recent decline in oil has had, and to determine if the bottom has been put in for oil prices for the time being.

Earnings from a number of companies will be released next week. Helen of Troy Limited (HELE), AZZ, Inc. (AZZ) and Lindsay Corporation (LNN) all report Tuesday. Wednesday investors will hear from Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and homebuilders KB Homes (KBH) and Lennar Corp. (LEN). The homebuilders face a tough market right now, and analysts will be looking for forward projections heading into 2019. Thursday investors will focus on earnings from FuelCell Energy (FCEL) and Synnex Corporation (SNX). Infosys (INFY) closes out the earnings week on Friday, before the earnings season kicks into high gear the following week.  

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