Market Preview: Continued Chinese Weakness May Impact Markets

Markets were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but may take their cue from overseas markets when they reopen for business Tuesday. European markets were flat to lower as they digested final GDP numbers out of China for 2018. The Chinese economy grew 6.6% in 2018, its slowest growth in almost 30 years.

When markets reopen Tuesday, they will also return to the stalemate in Washington, with nothing being resolved over the long holiday weekend. President Trump’s offer to extend the DACA program for three years in exchange for funds to build a border wall with Mexico was announced dead on arrival by Democratic leaders.

In addition to impacting federal workers and the businesses they frequent, the extended shutdown is preventing companies, like Uber (UBER, pre-IPO) and Lyft (LYFT, pre-IPO), from proceeding with their IPOs. A skeleton staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is on duty to police market misconduct, but not to approve IPOs and other registration filings.

Tuesday analysts will see the release of Redbook retail data. A major economic victim of the government shutdown has been retail data. The Redbook data has therefore taken on more importance in recent weeks. Last week showed a 6.7% rise in sales year-over-year. This weekly data is being watched closely for any cracks in consumer confidence. Also released Tuesday are existing homes sales numbers.

Investors will get a reading on brokerage earnings Tuesday when TD Ameritrade (AMTD) and Interactive Brokers (IBKR) report. With several reports showing investors moving to the sidelines in late 2018, analysts will be monitoring the level of trading activity at these brokerage firms, given the swift rebound so far this year. Did investors reengage in the market, or are they still waiting for an all clear? Also releasing earnings Tuesday are Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), International Business Machines (IBM) and The Travelers Companies (TRV).

Proctor and Gamble (PG), United Technologies (UTX), Texas Instruments (TXN), ASML NV (ASML) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) report earnings Wednesday. Like the other casino stocks, Las Vegas Sands started trending lower in mid-2018, but looks to have found a bottom in the mid-$50s. The company is expected to report $.86 per share on Wednesday. Investors will be looking for an update from United Technologies on its plans to separate into three different companies. Announced in 2018, the company has said that the reorg could take as much as two years to complete.  

Mortgage applications, the FHFA House Price Index, and the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index will all be released Wednesday. With both orders and shipments contracting unexpectedly in December, when the Index came in at -8, investors are keeping a close eye on the Richmond Fed numbers for January. Projected to bounce slightly to -3, the number is an important gauge of where the economy may be heading in early 2019.