Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead

Top 5 Things to Watch in Markets in the Week Ahead

Concerns over elevated inflation look likely to remain to the fore in the coming week with investors looking ahead to the latest U.S. retail sales figures along with earnings results from major retailers, including Walmart. The latest set of economic data out of China on Monday is expected to confirm a slowdown in its economic recovery, just as Europe is experiencing a fresh surge in Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, UK employment numbers will be closely watched after the Bank of England said it wanted more evidence of improvement in the labour market when it surprised markets by failing to deliver a widely expected rate hike earlier this month. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

U.S. retail sales

The highlight of the week’s economic calendar will be October retail sales data, due out on Tuesday, with economists expecting an increase of 1.1%, after a 0.7% rise in September.

U.S. inflation has surged to the highest level in over thirty years amid a global supply chain crunch and data on Friday showed that consumer sentiment fell to its lowest in a decade this month, as higher prices eroded living standards.

Investors are betting that the Federal Reserve will have to raise interest rates sooner than currently indicated to stop inflation spiralling upward.

The economic calendar also features data on industrial production on Tuesday, reports on housing starts and building permits on Wednesday and the weekly figures on initial jobless claims on Thursday.

Retail earnings

The third-quarter earnings season is continuing to wind down, but investors will get an additional update on the strength of consumer spending this week with results from major retailers, including Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Target (NYSE: TGT), and Macy’s (NYSE: M).

The earnings reports will face extra scrutiny ahead of the start of the holiday shopping season, with investors looking at guidance from retailers to determine whether inflation will eat into profits or be passed on to consumers.

The third-quarter earnings season has largely been upbeat. Reuters reported that as of Friday, 459 of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported, with 80% of earnings results beating analysts’ forecasts.

China slowdown

The recovery in the world’s number two economy is weakening and data on Monday, which includes reports on retail sales, fixed-asset investment and industrial production is expected to confirm this. The loss of momentum in China, a key driver of global growth, is casting a shadow over the uneven global economic recovery from the pandemic.

The recovery in China has been hit by an aggressive approach to containing Covid-19 outbreaks, a massive debt crisis in the country’s real estate sector and an energy crunch that has weighed on manufacturing activity.

Analysts think the country’s central bank is likely to take a cautious approach to loosen monetary policy to bolster the economy as slowing growth combined with soaring inflation fuel concerns over stagflation.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is to hold a virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday, amid rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies. However, U.S. officials have downplayed hopes for any progress on trade.

UK jobs data

The BoE has indicated that it wants more information on the strength of the UK labour market before hiking rates for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, so the latest jobs report on Tuesday will be in sharp focus.

The October jobs data will show if there was an increase in unemployment after a pandemic-era wage subsidy scheme expired at the end of September.

The jobs data will be followed by inflation numbers on Wednesday and retail sales figures on Friday. With inflation expected to continue accelerating for now the BoE may proceed with a rate hike at its December meeting, barring any unexpected weakness in the labour market data.

Pandemic resurgence hits Europe

Europe is seeing a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding to headwinds for the region’s already fragile economic recovery.

Europe accounts for more than half of the average 7-day infections globally and about half of the latest deaths, according to data compiled by Reuters, the highest levels since April last year when the virus was at its initial peak in Italy.

Several countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic are implementing restrictions or planning fresh measures to slow the spread.

Holland entered a three-week partial lockdown on Saturday, the first in Western Europe since the summer. Germany reintroduced free Covid-19 tests on Saturday and Austria is to decide on Sunday whether to impose a lockdown on people who are not vaccinated.

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