Editor's Note: Welcome to the first installment of "The Week Ahead." In this new Sunday evening column, Real Money Pro contributor Christopher Versace will enumerate and examine important upcoming market-moving events for the coming week while providing concise analysis on the most recent market data and news.
Last week witnessed a number of significent events. Tuesday marked the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- a day of shock, horror, sacrifice and sorrow. On Wednesday, Apple (AAPL) unveiled its much-anticipated iPhone 5. Also on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Fed's policymaking body, the Federal Open Market Committee, kicked off their two-day policy meeting. On Thursday, the Fed did what was widely expected and enacted its latest round of quantitative easing. The net result was a 2% jump for the S&P 500 last week, with the vast majority of the move coming soon after the Fed announced its policy decision mid-session last Thursday.
Turning to inflationary matters, even though the Department of Agriculture said the domestic corn crop will be larger than expected, corn production is expected to be at its lowest level in six years this year. This has caused many to speculate that inflation will soon rear its head in the form of higher food prices. Already the World Bank reported that global food prices rose 10% in July, and last week we saw that inflation is alive and well in both the August producer price and consumer price indices.
The overriding factor in the PPI and CPI had been higher energy and food prices. In the coming days, we'll be hearing from both ConAgra (CAG) and General Mills (GIS), and managements presentations should offer clues as to how those companies see food inflation developing in the coming months.
Separately, in the last few weeks we've heard several companies warn of weaker-than-expected results. In early September, FedEx (FDX) -- which is set to report August-quarter results Tuesday -- cut its earnings-per-share guidance range to between $1.37 and $1.43 from the earlier estimate of $1.45 to $1.60.
FedEx was not alone. Just last week, thanks to weak demand, rising costs or both, outlooks were cut at Spirit Airlines (SAVE), Werner Enterprises (WERN), Globecomm (GCOM), filtration-products maker Polypore International (PPO), farm-equipment retailer Titan Machinery (TITN), AK Steel (AKS), United Natural Foods (UNFI) and data-storage provider Xyratex (XRTX). We have less than two weeks to go until companies close their books on the current quarter, which means just over three weeks or so until corporate earnings season kicks off once again. Investors, therefore, will be bracing for more companies to warn on third-quarter shortfalls.
The week ahead will start off relatively quietly, but is set to come to a head Thursday, when a number of economic and corporate earnings reports are scheduled to hit the tape. Prior to that, on Tuesday and Wednesday, we'll get the latest snapshot on the housing market. Also this week, we'll have the latest reading on economic activity in China and the eurozone, as well as regional manufacturing readings here in the U.S.
Here's a more granular look at what's on tap for the markets and investors this week.
- New York Empire Manufacturing Index (August) -- Monday, Sept. 17
- National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index (Sept.) -- Tuesday, Sept. 18
- Housing Starts (August) -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- Building Permits (August) -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- Existing Home Sales (August) -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI (September) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Markit Economics Flash Eurozone PMI (September) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Index (Weekly) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (Weekly) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims (Weekly) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Philadelphia Fed Index (September) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Leading Indicators (August) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
Corporate Earnings Events
- FedEx -- Tuesday, Sept. 18
- Schiff Nutrition International (SHF) -- Tuesday, Sept. 18
- Adobe Systems (ADBE) -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- AutoZone (AZO) -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- General Mills -- Wednesday, Sept. 19
- ConAgra Foods -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- IHS (IHS) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Jefferies (JEF) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- CarMax (KMX) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Herman Miller (MLHR) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Oracle (ORCL) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Rite Aid (RAD) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- Scholastic (SCHL) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
- TIBCO Software (TIBX) -- Thursday, Sept. 20
Upcoming Investor Conferences
- J.P. Morgan Communications Equipment SDN Forum -- Sept. 18
- J.P. Morgan 3rd Annual U.S. "All Stars" Corporate Access Days -- Sept. 18-19
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch Power and Gas Leaders Conference -- Sept. 19
- High Performance Computing for Wall Street 2012 (link) -- Sept. 19
- Goldman Sachs 21st Annual Communacopia Conference -- Sept. 19-20
- Citi Global Industrials Conference -- Sept. 19-20
- UBS Global Life Sciences Conference -- Sept. 19-20
- HSBC 3rd Annual Global Natural Resources Conference (link)-- Sept. 24-25