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Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead

Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead By

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Economy 29 minutes ago (Jan 29, 2023 12:18)

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By Noreen Burke — It’s set to be an action-packed week as three of the world’s largest central banks hold policy meetings and three out of the top four U.S. companies by market capitalization are set to report earnings. While the Federal Reserve is expected to slow the pace of interest rate hikes the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are both expected to hike rates by 50 basis points. Friday’s U.S. jobs report will also be in the spotlight and markets in China are re-opening after the Lunar New Year holidays. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

Fed downshift?

Will the Fed continue to slow the pace of rate hikes in the face of cooling inflation or stick to its guns? Market watchers are widely expecting a 25-basis point rate increase on Wednesday to a range of 4.5% to 4.75%, slowing the size of the increase for a second consecutive meeting.

Investors will be closely watching Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s post policy meeting press conference for any indications of how much higher rates will rise and when officials might consider a pause.

Meanwhile, Friday’s employment report is expected to show that the economy created 185,000 jobs in January, slowing from 223,000 the previous month, while the unemployment rate is projected to tick up to 3.6%. Average hourly earnings are expected to slow slightly from the previous month.

The economic calendar for the week also features a report on job openings for December on Wednesday along with ISM PMIs.

ECB to hike by 50 bps; Lagarde to remain hawkish

A rate hike of 50 basis points to 3% from the ECB when it meets on Thursday looks like a done deal – but what happens next remains unclear. Market watchers will be on the lookout for indications of how much further and how fast officials intend to go.

ECB President Christine Lagarde will likely remain hawkish as core inflation remains stubbornly high, despite growing dissent among policymakers, with more dovish voices arguing that inflation has retreated from record highs.

Policy hawks are pushing for more of the same in March, with inflation still well above the ECB’s 2% target.

Before Thursday’s ECB meeting, the Eurozone is to release fourth quarter GDP on Tuesday which is expected to show a small contraction. The bloc is to release inflation data for January on Wednesday, which is expected to have slowed for a third straight month.

BOE to follow Fed and ECB

The BOE, the first of the major central banks to begin hiking rates, is expected to deliver its tenth rate hike since December 2021 on Thursday.

Officials are widely expected to raise rates by 50 basis points to 4%. Headline inflation moderated in December to 10.5%, but it’s still over five times the Bank’s official target and wage growth remains persistently high.

Market watchers will be looking out for indications of whether policymakers think they are near the end of their tightening cycle. Money markets are currently expecting one final 25 basis point hike in March, which would take the Bank Rate to a peak of 4.25%.


Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) – three of the four largest U.S. companies by market value are all due to report results on Thursday as earnings season gets into full swing. Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) is due to report on Wednesday.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the fourth of the U.S. megacaps, already reported last week. Its cloud business hit Wall Street targets, but it delivered a lackluster forecast that offered little cheer to the broader tech sector.

Tech companies generally are under pressure to grow while cutting costs ahead of a potential recession.

143 of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported so far this earnings season. Of those, 67.8% have beaten Street expectations, slightly better than the 66% long-term average, but well below the 76% beat rate over the past four quarters, according to Refinitiv.

Analysts now see aggregate S&P 500 earnings falling 2.9% year-on-year, compared with the milder 1.6% annual drop seen on Jan. 1, per Refinitiv.

Chinese markets return

Chinese financial markets will return after the week-long Lunar New Year holidays and will look to pick up where they left off – at a five-month peak for mainland blue chips.

Holiday travel inside China surged 74% from last year after authorities scrapped COVID-19 restrictions, state media reported on Saturday. Meanwhile, official data indicated that COVID deaths have dropped about 80% from the peak earlier this month, running counter to worries that holiday travel would trigger a fresh wave of infections.

PMI data on Tuesday will likely show some impact of China’s reopening with service sector activity expected to rebound into expansion territory. The manufacturing sector is expected to remain in contraction, largely due to the timing of the New Year holiday, and next month should see a strong rebound.

–Reuters contributed to this report

Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead

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