While the last weeks of summer are typically lazy, next week will be anything but relaxing for traders who will continue to wrestle with swaying oil prices, the pummeled financial sector and a spate of important economic data.
The major averages were tossed back and forth last week as the woes continued for the financials. Shares of
plummeted more than 40%, and speculation built that a government takeover is imminent.
On the bright side, the dollar strengthened and oil prices held below $120 a barrel. Bulls are keeping their fingers crossed that the greenback will keep recovering and hold crude futures in check.
"The trend is favorable, but we're extremely sensitive to crude prices," says Phillip Roth, chief technical market analyst with Miller Tabak. "Crude has reached a downside target area and hit a support level at $110 a barrel. Volume usually gets lighter and lighter as August ends, so we're going to have a pretty thin market next week."
After a relatively light week for economic data, the pace will pick up over the next five days. One of the main releases will come Tuesday, with the minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting offering more insight into the
views of the troubled labor and financial markets.
At the Aug. 5 meeting, the FOMC held its target for the fed funds rate at 2%, saying that tight credit conditions, the ongoing housing contraction and elevated energy prices "are likely to weigh on economic growth over the next few quarters."
"It'll be interesting to see what the Fed's rhetoric was during the meeting, but nothing will really come as a surprise," says Art Hogan, chief market analyst with Jefferies.
Housing data will likely paint a mixed picture as Monday's existing-home sales report is expected to show a 0.8% increase to 4.90 million annualized units, and Tuesday's report on new-home sales should show a 1.3% decline to a 523,000 annual pace.
"I don't know that home data can really move markets anymore," says Hogan. "I'd be hard-pressed to find a number that will move the markets by how negative it is. And it goes without saying that nothing coming out of the housing news will be positive enough to move things."
The remainder of the week's economic releases include the preliminary read on second-quarter gross domestic product, which should be revised higher to 2.7% from 1.9% thanks to a climb in net exports, durable-goods orders, personal income and spending, and consumer confidence. Also on tap are reports on the Chicago purchasing managers' index and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index.
On the earnings front, retailers will once again be in focus. Although home-improvement goods sellers
owned the spotlight last week,
will be closely watched when it reports results Thursday, the same day luxury retailer
releases its second-quarter numbers.
will post earnings during the week, giving analysts an idea of how the economic slowdown weighed on lower-income households during the last quarter.
A handful of apparel retailers will also be out with quarterly results. Among those set to report are
"Some of the data from retailers should be interesting, but with most of the reports already in, my guess is that the releases will not provide any new data," says Paul Nolte, director of investments with Hinsdale Associates. "If there are misses, it will be company-specific and not related to the weakness in the economy."
Among tech companies set to report this week,
and software maker
will all be out with quarterly numbers.