Investors will be watching a newly hawkish Federal Reserve in the coming week for clues as to the likelihood of a move on interest rates in March.
U.S. stock markets will be closed Monday for Presidents Day and will resume trading on Tuesday.
The central bank will release minutes from its January meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The release will likely confirm a recent switch in rhetoric among Fed members in signaling that the U.S. economy is heating up and that it must act soon.
"I'm not sure there's anything that would surprise the markets unless they all sounded very, very dovish -- I'd be very surprised if that happened," Schwab's Randy Frederick said in a phone call. "There's no economic data weakness out there that would support any dovishness ... The market is ready for interest rate hikes, it's prepared for them, it's expecting them, and I think the Fed is trying to prepare them for it. The big question of course is whether we get it in March or not."
Frederick noted that the next reading on personal consumption expenditure will give the markets far more clarity as to whether a rate hike in March is likely. The third inflation gauge (alongside producer and consumer prices) is the final metric to have not crossed the Fed's 2% target.
Elsewhere on the economic calendar in the coming week: A flash reading on the PMI Manufacturing Index for February will be released Tuesday; existing home sales for January on Wednesday; weekly jobless claims on Thursday; and new home sales for January and the final reading on consumer sentiment for February on Friday.
Outside of the Fed, the White House could again move markets as it has in the past month Donald Trump has been in the Oval Office. The longer the markets are kept in the dark on tax reform policy and other legislative changes from the executive branch, the more volatility Wall Street could see, Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust, told TheStreet.
"It is important that the specifics of fiscal policy, tax cut and regulatory legislation take shape more quickly, as we see the effectiveness and direction of monetary policy going forward having a less supportive impact for economic growth," said Cecilia. "In the interim, we would expect bouts of both equity and bond market volatility due to the uncertainty."
So far, tax policy changes have remained frustratingly vague. Trump made reference to a forthcoming tax reform plan last Wednesday, noting that a "massive tax plan" would be made public in the "not-too-distant future." Then, on Thursday, Trump said the highly anticipated plan would be submitted after a health care proposal in March. Trump has yet to elucidate details on either.
Retailers will get their chance in the spotlight in the coming week with a number slated to report earnings for their critical holiday quarter. Expectations are relatively low for the majority with several retailers, including Macy's (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report and Target (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report , already having warned of weaker sales over the Christmas season. Slower traffic at malls and cautious consumer spending are expected to have contributed to retail weakness. Retail earnings are expected to increase by 5.2% over the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.
Retail earnings of note include Home Depot (HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report , Macy's (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report and Walmart (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report on Tuesday; L Brands (LB) - Get L Brands, Inc. (LB) Report and TJX Cos. (TJX) - Get TJX Companies Inc Report on Wednesday; Gap (GPS) - Get Gap, Inc. (GPS) Report , Kate Spade (KATE) , Kohl's (KSS) - Get Kohl's Corporation (KSS) Report and Nordstrom (JWN) - Get Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) Report on Thursday; and Foot Locker (FL) - Get Foot Locker, Inc. Report and J.C.Penney (JCP) - Get J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Report on Friday.
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