After much-ballyhooed oil production talks collapsed in acrimony on Sunday in Qatar, the tabloids of yore might have carried this banner headline: “Doha Lays an Egg.”
Crushing investor hopes of a sustained energy rally, officials from 18 oil-producing nations failed on Sunday to achieve an agreement to freeze oil production at current levels.
Representing most OPEC nations as well as Russia, the conference was an attempt to alleviate the massive global oil glut that’s weighing on prices and equity markets. But the effort backfired and has probably made the situation worse by undermining investor confidence.
The major point of contention was Iran’s categorical rejection of a freeze. Iran’s proven oil reserves are the fifth largest in the world; the country’s refusal to cap production would have rendered any freeze ineffectual.
Now that the confab has ended in abject failure, oil prices are likely to plunge again in coming days, taking the broader markets with them. Investors have started fleeing vulnerable energy stocks to seek better growth opportunities in other sectors such as technology.
The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) - Get Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund Report is up 12.60% over the past three months, as major technology stocks gain momentum in the wake of strong quarterly earnings.
So far this year, energy prices and stocks have tended to move in tandem. This dynamic will probably play out again this week.
Oil plummeted in early trading on Monday in Asia, at one point declining nearly 6% percent to fall below $38 a barrel.
Meanwhile, before the Doha meeting, Citigroup (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Reportstrategists predicted that if the group failed to reach an agreement, it would trigger a "severe" plunge in energy prices. Investors should brace themselves for that eventuality. Whether the energy rally is sustainable looks increasingly doubtful.
Of keen interest in the week ahead will be new petroleum and natural gas reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), as well as the latest
that the rig count fell for the fourth straight week; similarly bad news is expected in Friday's update.
The upshot, it seems, is that Saudi Arabia's desperate efforts to boost energy prices are going nowhere fast.
But good news last week came from a surprising source: the operating results of big banks. Quarterly earnings reports were not as weak as investors had feared, helping propel the overall market higher. For the week, the S&P 500 (SPY) - Get SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust Report was up 1.6%.
Skepticism over bank earnings remains, especially in light of the massive energy sector debt now on many bank balance sheets, but concern is considerably less dire. The latest earnings from major financial services firms in coming days will hold further clues as to the health of the overall economy in general and the banking sector in particular.
Here's a snapshot of the major earnings and economic reports on the docket in the week ahead:
Monday: M&T Bank (MTB) - Get M&T Bank Corporation Report , Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report , BBCN Bancorp (BBCN) , MB Financial (MBFI) - Get MB Financial, Inc. Report , Hasbro (HAS) - Get Hasbro, Inc. Report , PepsiCo (PEP) - Get PepsiCo, Inc. Report , IBM (IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report , and Netflix (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report . Tuesday: Brinker (EAT) - Get Brinker International, Inc. Report , Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Report , Harley-Davidson (HOG) - Get Harley-Davidson, Inc. Report , Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report , Philip Morris International (PM) - Get Philip Morris International Inc. Report , TD Ameritrade (AMTD) - Get TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation Report , UnitedHealth (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report , Intel (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report , and Yahoo! (YHOO) . Wednesday: ABB (ABB) - Get ABB Ltd. Report , Abbott Labs (ABT) - Get Abbott Laboratories Report , Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report , Illinois Tool (ITW) - Get Illinois Tool Works Inc. Report , Textron (TXT) - Get Textron Inc. Report , U.S. Bancorp (USB) - Get U.S. Bancorp Report , Hexcel (HXL) - Get Hexcel Corporation Report , Newmont Mining (NEM) - Get Newmont Corporation Report , Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report , and Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands, Inc. Report . Thursday: Alaska Air (ALK) - Get Alaska Air Group, Inc. Report , Biogen (BIIB) - Get Biogen Inc. Report , Canadian Pacific (CP) - Get Canadian Pacific Railway Limited Report , General Motors (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report , Novartis (NVS) - Get Novartis AG Report , Rockwell Collins (COL) , Verizon (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report , Norfolk Southern (NSC) - Get Norfolk Southern Corporation Report , Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Schlumberger NV Report , Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report , and Visa (V) - Get Visa Inc. Class A Report . Friday: American Airlines (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report , Caterpillar (CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report , General Electric (GE) - Get General Electric Company Report , Honeywell (HON) - Get Honeywell International Inc. Report , Kimberly-Clark (KMB) - Get Kimberly-Clark Corporation Report , McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report , and SunTrust Banks (STI) - Get SunTrust Banks, Inc. Report .
Economic Calendar: Monday: Housing Market Index. Tuesday: Housing Starts. Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, Existing Home Sales, and EIA Petroleum Status Report. Thursday: Jobless Claims, FHFA House Price Index, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, Leading Indicators, and EIA Natural Gas Report. Friday: PMI Manufacturing Index Flash and Baker Hughes Rig Count.
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John Persinos is editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.