Stock traders are braced for what could be an extremely volatile week. Keep in mind, this week is the official start of the US corporate earnings season and at the same time, there is going to be a lot of economic and inflation data being released as well as the latest headlines regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine.
It is also a short trading week with stock, bond, and commodity markets closed on Friday for Good Friday, which could bring some added volatility as we get closer to the long weekend.
Most Wall Street traders recognize that the S&P 500 rally off the March 2020 lows was built on extremely strong US corporate earnings power. Several traders and investors are quick to remind us that prior to the Covid outbreak S&P 500 company earnings were averaging around $40/share per quarter. Fast forward to our last earnings report that showed 2021 Q4 earnings and we see an average of $55/share. In other words, there was a +38% jump in earnings from before the pandemic to our last quarterly estimates, which puts us fairly in line with the current price level of the S&P 500. The question is can US corporate earnings continue to show growth?
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I worry because interest rates are starting to aggressively creep higher, wage inflation is real, energy inflation is real, the cost of doing business is obviously higher and supply chain dislocations are still creating supply-side imbalances.
China in the spotlight
Remember, China’s lockdown in Shanghai continues. The lockdown began on March 28 in half the city but has since expanded to its entire population of around 26 million. A trucker shortage and closures of warehouses in Shanghai are also affecting nearby provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, according to a recent note from Citigroup analysts.
The two provinces are major manufacturing hubs that produce about one-third of China’s total exports. Shipping experts warn the fallout will start to be felt in the months ahead as severe dislocations once again drive up shipping costs and exacerbate shortages of raw materials and other essential supplies. There are also lingering concerns about energy prices as Europe continues to debate the possibility of banning Russian oil and gas supplies. Such a move could bring another dramatic rise in prices as available global supplies get spread even more thin.
Data to watch
The Atlanta Fed is now forecasting just +1.1% Q1 US GDP growth, whereas, three of their last four Quarterly readings were all above +6.1%. At the same time, there are a lot more investors and economists also starting to walk back their global economic growth estimates. Several sources are thinking Ukraine’s economic output will likely contract by -40% to -50%.
More economists are also forecasting a double-digit reduction in Russia’s GDP, as well as much larger reductions in countries like Belarus and Moldova. Growth estimates in the Central Europe region i.e. Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania are also starting to be reduced.
There was also more talk over the weekend that Russia could eventually start to default on some of its “external debt” for the first time since 1917.
As for this week, all eyes will be on Consumer Price Index, scheduled for release Tuesday morning, and the Producer Price Index scheduled for release Wednesday morning. Both will work to add a bit more color to our current inflation debate. Also on Wednesday, we get the first batch of Q1 earnings from a few big names like JPMorgan, Black Rock, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Delta. Then on Thursday the trade will be digesting the latest Retail Sales data and another round of earnings from names like Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanely, and United Health Group.
Keep in mind, several of the largest US banks might be reporting their biggest slowdown in investment banking revenue in years, as more and more “deals” have been getting put on the back-burner. Who knows how long this slowdown will last?
Top 3 Things You Need To Know This Week by Inna Rosputnia
Wishing you a great week!
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