Daily Agenda: The Week Ahead, February 22 – 28, 2016

As Hollywood gears up for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, the housing markets in the U.S. and China get ready for their close-up.


Richard Harbaugh

After a modest rebound for equity and oil markets fizzled out Friday, investors were left pondering what impact weak global demand signals mean for valuations. With the double impact of ultra-low interest rates and low commodity prices creating headwinds for the energy and financial sectors, investor sentiment continues to come under pressure.

Monday, February 22: London–headquartered HSBC announces earnings. Expectations for the European banking sector were dealt a blow late last month when Deutsche Bank, the largest investment banking franchise for the region, announced a record loss for 2015 that may top $10 billion on legal and regulatory costs. As for HSBC, this past year was the first in more than a decade that it failed to hold first place in underwriting emerging-markets bond issues, as China’s Citic Securities Co. became the leading underwriter of renminbi-denominated debt.

Tuesday, February 23: The U.S. housing market is getting a monthly checkup. The National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales data for January; also on the docket is the December Case-Shiller price index. Despite expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise rates again before year-end, market analysts predict a tightening labor market — and subsequent wage growth — should help drive housing demand.

Wednesday, February 24: Man Group, the world’s largest publicly traded hedge fund firm, announces fourth-quarter 2015 financial results. After reporting net inflows of $1.4 billion in assets under management during the third quarter of last year, some analysts are anticipating that the London–based company may fare better than many of its alternative asset management competitors.

Thursday, February 25: The U.K. Office for National Statistics releases preliminary GDP data for the final three months of 2015. As the U.K. prepares for a politically divisive vote on whether or not to remain in the European Union, any signal of macro headwinds from across the English Channel stands to weigh on growth prospects.

Friday, February 26: China’s National Bureau of Statistics releases January housing index levels, providing data points to help investors to assess the effectiveness of interventions to-date. This past Friday, February 19, the Ministry of Finance announced that tax rates for some real estate transactions would be lowered, the latest in a series of accommodative moves from Beijing intended to help property markets in the world’s second-largest economy find their feet.


Sunday, February 28: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosts the 88th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Among the nominees for Best Picture is Wall Street dramedy The Big Short , directed by Adam McKay. The “Everyone Wins” gift bag, distributed to VIPs by third-party marketing firm Distinctive Assets, is rumored to be valued at nearly $200,000, including such swag as a $55,000 ten-day all-expense-paid trip to Israel, a $1,900 Vampire Breast Life and $275 toilet paper. Last week the Academy launched a suit in California federal court against Distinctive Assets the bag presenter on the grounds that the gift bags contain items that are not in keeping with the Academy’s stated values.