Stock indexes are mostly flat for the week with traders looking for the next sign of clear direction. An outstanding earnings season and signs that economic activity are picking back up are clashing with unrelenting inflation, difficulty finding more labor, and continued supply chain logjams.
Most insiders believe inflation has further to climb, though the consensus right now is calling for a peak around the beginning of Q2 next year. With big shopping holidays in the U.S. coming up, followed closely by Chinese New Year at the beginning of February 2022, shipping and transportation logjams aren’t expected to find much relief in the near-term.
Meaning inflation pressures will likely continue. How far inflation will climb as the severe supply chain dislocations drag on is a huge unknown. Some Wall street investors are concerned that the Fed might feel compelled to end its asset purchases and hike rates much sooner than expected if monthly inflation keeps accelerating.
What might be even more worrisome is the fear that some of these price increases could be more permanent in nature, so how much overall inflation will pull back in the long run is starting to become a bigger talking point.
Demand and supply chain
Supply chain insiders warn that many companies are front-loading inventories in an effort to avoid running out of critical materials, which could bite in the long run if demand suddenly drops off. A lot of manufacturers have also increased production capacity for products that currently face shortages. The risk is that once back orders are filled and demand retreats, stockpiling and excess production could result in an oversupply situation in some areas, along with much lower profits and total revenues.
Another worry right now is that demand starts to retreats due to the current inflationary environment especially with everyday items like food and gasoline costing substantially more. That has investors anxious to see the latest Consumer Sentiment read being released today which is expected to edge higher vs. last month.
Investors are closing tracking the inflation expectation gauges in the report as typically the higher those climb, the more consumers tend to pull back on spending.
Data to watch next week
Looking towards next week, the economic data flow picks up with key releases including Empire State Manufacturing on Monday; Retail Sales, Import/Export Prices, Industrial Production, Business Inventories, and the NAHB Housing Market Index on Tuesday; Housing Starts and Building Permits on Wednesday; and the Philadelphia Fed Index on Thursday.
On the earnings front, Q3 reporting is just about wrapped up with companies in the S&P 500 index reporting revenue growth of more than +17%, the second highest on record behind only Q2 2021’s growth of over +25%, according to FactSet. Earnings themselves are on track to exceed +40%. AstraZeneca is today’s earnings highlight. Earnings next week include several big retailers which will provide some more clues as to how consumer demand is trending as well as updates on supply chain struggles. Investors are also keen to hear how holiday hiring is going.
Key earnings reports next week will include Advanced Auto Parts, Lucid, Tyson, and Warner Music on Monday; Home Depot and Walmart on Tuesday; Bath & Body Works, Cisco, Lowe’s, NVIDIA, Target, TJX, and Victoria’s Secret on Wednesday; Alibaba, Applied Materials, Intuit, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Palo Alto Networks, Ross Stores, and Williams Sonoma on Thursday; and The Buckle and Foot Locker on Friday.
Checking in on the geopolitical front, the U.S. is warning that Russia may be planning a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials say they’ve briefed their EU counterparts about concerns over a possible military operation, citing a buildup of Russian troops along the Ukraine border. Tensions are boiling still in Belarus and Russia is fanning the flames on that front as well.
The bearish accumulation divergence played very well last week. Moreover, the Advance Decline Line is weaker than the price is. It is also a negative factor in the short term. Potentially SP500 started the formation of the bull flag. Finding support at lower levels would be a great buying point with a target of 4800.
The major economic indicators are still bullish despite rising inflation. 4500 level is a psychological level bears will target if 4600 fails. Current levels can be considered only for intraday trading. At the same time, lower levels are needed to get a good risk/reward ratio for swing traders.
What Fuels The Stock Market Now? by Inna Rosputnia
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