President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s farewell meeting and a tsunami of earnings reports from tech’s heaviest hitters are some of the big events for markets in the week ahead.
The stock market could continue its record-setting run as month end approaches, and the S&P 500 is already on track for a 7.2 percent January gain so far, its best gain since October 2015. If positive, January would be the 10th month of gains for the Dow and S&P, the best consecutive monthly winning streak since 1959.
Stock investors will focus on a range of events, including President Trump’s State of the Union address and his expected promise of a major infrastructure spending plan. The president is expected to ask Congress for $200 billion.
More than a fifth of the S&P 500 companies release earnings, with reports from Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet on Wednesday and Thursday, and from big oil, including ExxonMobil and Chevron, on Friday.
The Fed is expected to keep interest rates steady Wednesday, in the final meeting before Chair Janet Yellen leaves at the end of the week and Fed governor Jerome Powell moves to the chairmanship. The Fed is expected to raise rates again in March, and it forecasts three interest rate hikes this year.
“I suspect there’s not going to be a massive change. Their views are going to be about the same. You will definitely see more conversation about regulation from him,” said Seth Carpenter, UBS chief U.S. economist.
There are also some major data releases in the coming week, as the calendar rolls to February from January, with car sales, manufacturing and productivity data Thursday and the always important monthly employment report on Friday.
The roll of the calendar itself could be a big event, as investors position for the end of a month where stocks soared and bonds sold off. Some strategists expect to see a continued reallocation from pension funds, which set their allocations in January. Treasury bonds have sold off, with the 10-year yield reaching close to its high of 2.47 percent Friday, and the 2-year piercing 2.13 percent, after starting the year at 1.89. Yields move opposite prices.
“There are estimates of tens of billions of dollars on the street to sell stocks and buy bonds. … It could be there is an asset allocation trade going on. It may not wait until the 31st. It also feels like the street is so focused on it, that it’s entirely possible people have been positioning for it,” said Julian Emanuel, chief equity and derivative strategist at BTIG.
Stocks closed out Friday with record highs in the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The S&P gained 2.2 percent for the week to 2.872 percent. The Dow rose 2 percent for the week to 26,616 and is now up 7.7 percent for January.
“The fast and furious action in January, the strength of the month combined with the message from the options market that volatility is rising as the S&P is rising, and the very high relative price of out-of-the-money puts and out-of-the-money calls leaves us to believe we’re in the midst of a melt-up phase,” said Emanuel. “The market trades as if the 2018 catch-up trade is already happening.”
Emanuel said earnings will be a factor in the coming week, but the market may look past politics, as it has been doing. “What we noticed is there are a lot more big price moves this week in anticipation of more big price moves next week,” he said, of the earnings season.
In the Treasury market, yields ended the week near recent highs. The market is also looking forward to information Wednesday on the Treasury’s refunding plans.
Michael Schumacher, Wells Fargo director of rate strategy, said the Treasury could say it needs to issue about $512 billion in debt in the first quarter, of an estimated $1 trillion for 2018. That would be about double the amount issued last year.
“We’re wondering if they’re going to give a little more guidance on their plans for the year. They have the debt ceiling. If you took that out of the picture, you’d have a lot more long-term debt instead of bills,” he said.
Strategists said they are anticipating an announcement soon about when the government is going to run out of room and will need to raise the debt ceiling. Expectations for that were March, but now there’s more of a sense it could have to be dealt with in February.
“We expect there could be some talk about the debt ceiling,” said Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas. He said there’s a chance the debt ceiling could be temporarily raised when Congress authorizes the spending bill it pushed off to Feb. 8 so it could reopen the government.
Clifton said it’s possible there could be one deal in Congress that resolves some key immigration issues and authorizes spending and funds infrastructure.
“Trump is going to ask for $200 billion, and I think they’ll give Trump $10 [billion] to $15 billion for [each of] two years,” said Clifton.
Trump’s speech Tuesday may be similar to the message he delivered in Davos on Friday. “He’s starting to get accomplishments. There will be a focus on trade. He went after China technology in the speech in Davos: ‘You’re stealing our stuff, and we’re coming for you,'” Clifton said. “There will be some attention on foreign policy, North Korea and Iran. It will be more domestic-focused. He’s talking to Americans. ‘Here’s what I promised you.'”