Daily Agenda: The Week Ahead, January 19 – 23, 2015

On a shortened holiday week for U.S. markets, oil prices and the announcement from the ECB are the primary focuses of market sentiment.

McDonald's Profit Is Little Changed as U.S. Store Sales Drop

McDonald’s Corp. signage stands outside of a restaurant in San Pablo, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, posted fourth-quarter profit that was little changed from a year earlier as U.S. same-store sales fell amid shaky consumer confidence and increased competition. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

This past week was punctuated by a spike in equity volatility and the Swiss National Bank’s surprise announcement that it was lifting its exchange rate cap on the euro. As the new week comes into view, however, the price of oil remains the dominant market risk factor for allocators. Ryan Preclaw, director of credit strategies in Barclays in New York, discussed the turmoil that the plunge in oil prices has created for bond markets. In a report titled Time for a New Playbook, he wrote, “We believe that the experience of homebuilders from 2007 to 2011 offers a useful preview of the outcomes that are likely for exploration and production (E&P) names and review some of their likely tactics. The key conclusion is that E&P single-name performance is likely to depend on each firm’s ability to extend its runway.” Investors are now left to ponder just how much runway is needed and how much runway is available.

Monday, January 19: China’s National Bureau of Statistics will release data on the country’s housing market, with expectations for further signs of moderation in prices. In Japan, industrial production data for November will provide another opportunity for markets to gauge what impact Abenomics has had on the economy. Euro zone current account data for November is forecast to register a modest expansion as trade levels remain under pressure from low fuel costs and weak demand. Markets in the U.S. are closed in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Tuesday, January 20: Tuesday will be a huge day for economic data releases in China, with December industrial production, fixed investment and retail sales. Critically, fourth-quarter GDP data will also be released with consensus forecasts for the pace to cool to 7.2 percent annualized, the slowest since 2009. In Europe, December producer price index levels will be released in Germany, as will ZEW economic sentiment data. IBM, Morgan Stanley and Johnson & Johnson are among the many large-cap U.S. companies reporting earnings on Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 21: A slew of economic data will take center stage in Japan, including the all-industry index and the Bank of Japan policy statement. Forecasts are for no shift in direction. In The U.K., minutes from the recent Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting will be released, as will December employment data and the headline unemployment rate for November. In the U.S. housing starts for December will be released, with expectations for a marginal increase in activity for the month. Companies reporting earnings include American Express, eBay and UnitedHealth Group.

Thursday, January 22: The policy announcement from the European Central Bank will dominate market narratives, as investors brace for an anticipated new program of quantitative easing. In the U.S., in addition to weekly initial jobless claims, Energy Information Administration crude oil and natural gas storage figures will be released on the same day because of the truncated holiday week. On a day full of corporate announcements, the fourth-quarter earnings release by Starbucks after the close will be a chance to gauge the impact of cheap gasoline on the consumer discretionary sector.

Friday, January 23: Friday is purchasing manager index day around much of the world, including initial January HSBC manufacturing levels in China and Markit manufacturing and composite PMI data for the primary euro zone economies. Retail sales figures for December will be announced in the U.K., with forecasts for a moderation in the pace of shopping distorted by low gasoline costs. In the U.S. December existing home sales data will be published, with consensus forecasts for an uptick in the pace of turnover in the final weeks of the year. Companies posting quarterly results include Bank of New York Mellon, General Electric and McDonald’s.