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Retail earnings, Fed Chair Powell testifies, FOMC minutes: What to know in the week ahead

Heidi Chung

A deluge of retail earnings and the Federal Reserve will be in focus in the week ahead.

Approximately 92% of the S&P 500’s (^GSPC) market cap reported first-quarter earnings, but 22 of 45 brick-and-mortar retailers have yet to release results this earnings season.

“These names are projected to decline -41%, versus -9% for those that have already reported. This comparison is unfair, however, as 18 of these companies have an April quarter-end, which captures far more of the shelter-at-home period,” Credit Suisse strategist Jonathan Golub explained in an email Friday.

QUINCY, MA - APRIL 4: A line forms outside of the Walmart in Quincy, MA on April 4, 2020 as the store implements new restrictions on capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. People wait outside wearing masks and distanced apart. (Photo by Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Retail earnings come on the heels of Friday’s dismal April retail sales report. Headline retail sales nosedived a record 16.4% during the month, which was much worse than the 12% plunge expected by economists. Core retail sales, excluding the volatile auto and gas components, tumbled 16.2% following a decrease of 2.8% in the prior month.

Nearly all of the categories declined significantly except for online spending which surged 8.4% in April. COVID-19 continues to weigh heavily on the U.S. economy, and its damage has been reflected in recent economic data. However, with many states reopening parts of their economies, market participants will be closely monitoring commentary from retail companies’ management on what their expectations are for the future of their businesses amid this historic crisis.

Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy and L Brands are among the retail heavyweights reporting this week.


Tuesday morning, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to testify virtually before the Senate Banking Committee. Both are expected to update Congress on the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing will kick off at 10 a.m. ET.

Attention will stay on the Fed Wednesday when the Committee releases its late-April meeting minutes. The minutes are not expected to provide any fresh clues on the Fed’s next moves. “The minutes are likely to strike a gloomy note, with many Fed officials publicly becoming more downbeat about the prospects for a speedy economic recovery. But with the situation developing so rapidly, much of the discussion will be badly out of date,” Capital Economics wrote in a note Friday.

The minutes follow Powell’s webcast appearance hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics May 13. During the webcast, Powell shot down the idea of negative interest rates in the U.S. and noted that the global pandemic raises longer-term concerns.

“The recovery may take some time to gather momentum, and the passage of time can turn liquidity problems into solvency problems,” Powell said in his prepared remarks.

Economic calendar

Monday: NAHB Housing Market Index, May (35 expected, 30 in April)

Tuesday: Building Permits, April (1 million expected, 1.350 in March); Building Permits month-on-month, April (-25.9% expected, -7.0% in March); Housing Starts, April (929,000 expected, 1.216 million in March)

Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ending May 15 (+0.3% prior)

Thursday: Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook, May (-41.0% expected, -56.6 in April); Initial Jobless Claims, week ending May 16 (2.4 million expected, 2.98 million prior); Continuing Claims, week ending May 9 (22.83 million prior); Bloomberg Economic Expectations, May (29.0 in April); Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, week ending May 17 (35.8 prior); Markit US Manufacturing PMI, May preliminary (38.0 expected, 36.1 prior); Markit US Services PMI, May preliminary (32.0 expected, 26.7 prior); Markit US Composite PMI, May preliminary (27.0 prior); Leading Index, April (-5.7% expected, -6.7% in March); Existing Home Sales, April (4.30 million expected, 5.27 million in March); Existing Home Sales month-on-month, April (-18.4% expected, -8.5% in March)

Friday: N/A

Earnings calendar

Monday: Baidu (BIDU), iQUIYI (IQ) after market close

Tuesday: Advance Auto Parts (AAP), Home Depot (HD), Kohl’s (KSS), Walmart (WMT) before market open; Urban Outfitters (URBN) after market close

Wednesday: Lowe’s (LOW), Target (TGT) before market open; Expedia (EXPE), Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) after market close

Thursday: Best Buy (BBY), BJ’s Wholesale (BJ), Hormel (HRL), L Brands (LB), TJX Companies (TJX) before market open; e.l.f. Beauty (ELF), NVIDIA (NVDA), Ross Stores (ROST) after market close

Friday: Alibaba (BABA), Deere (DE), Foot Locker (FL) before market open

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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