The weekend's East Coast blizzard brought up to 30 inches of snow, gale-force winds, travel chaos, coastal flooding, and 19 deaths.
Another likely victim: the U.S. economy.
Massive storms invariably clobber business and consumer activity, such as retail and auto sales, hourly worker income, factory production, construction and deliveries of supplies. Notably, during the frigid "polar vortex" snow storms experienced in the first quarter of 2014, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 2.1%, after rising by 2.6% in the preceding quarter.
As Wall Street digs out this week, traders will digest the economic consequences of Winter Storm Jonas, as well as a raft of earnings and economic reports.
Leading the earnings report parade will be financial services, a sector that money guru Warren Buffett continues to embrace with bullish expectations.
Our forecast for the coming week: more wild intraday swings, as investors weigh worsening turmoil overseas and a mixed bag of portents at home.
In the negative column: geopolitical uncertainty, especially in China and Russia, where leaders continue to grapple with weakening currencies, teetering financial sectors and sharply slowing economic growth.
In Russia, economic dislocation has gotten so bad, average citizens are actually taking to the streets in protest, always a dicey proposition in Vladimir Putin's authoritarian regime. Also this week, several fourth-quarter earnings reports are expected to register year-over-year declines.
In the plus column: optimism last week about global central banks opening the monetary spigots, especially in Europe, and rising oil prices. A bearish week ended on Friday with a global stock rally that appears to have assuaged investor anxiety for now. U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Friday, for their first positive week in four weeks.
On the roster this week will be the first glimpse of fourth-quarter GDP growth in the U.S., new pronouncements from Janet Yellen and her cohorts at the Federal Reserve, and a flurry of major earnings reports. Analysts expect fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies to fall on average about 4%, the third quarter in a row of earnings declines for the index.
Banks will bear extra scrutiny, as bellwethers of overall growth in 2016. Last week, Wells Fargo (WFC) and M&T Bank (MTB) both topped Wall Street's projections for earnings, further justifying Warren Buffett's decision to add these stocks to Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) portfolio. The latest buying decisions of Buffett are worth watching now, as 2016 gets off to an extraordinarily volatile start.
Let's take a quick look at the major events in the week ahead:
Monday, January 25: Halliburton (HAL) , Kimberly-Clark (KMB) , McDonald's (MCD) , PetMed Express (PETS) , BancorpSouth (BXS) , BBCN Bancorp (BBCN) , FCB Financial (FCB) , and Bancorp (NBTB) .
Tuesday, January 26: Apple (AAPL) , AT&T (T) , 3M (MMM) , DuPont (DD) , First Midwest Banc (FMBI) , Flagstar Bancorp (FBC) , Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) , Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) , Lockheed Martin (LMT) , Peabody Energy (BTU) , Procter & Gamble (PG) , S&T Bancorp (STBA) , Sprint (S) , and U.S. Steel (X) .
Wednesday, January 27: Anthem (ANTM) , Biogen (BIIB) , Discover Financial Services (DFS) , Facebook (FB) , EverBank Financial (EVER) , Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) , General Dynamics (GD) , Hess (HES) , Illinois Tool Works (ITW) , Norfolk Southern (NSC) , Novartis (NVS) , Texas Instruments (TXN) , Textron (TXT) , United Technologies (UTX) .
Thursday, January 28: Abbott Laboratories (ABT) , Alibaba (BABA) , Amazon (AMZN) , Baker Hughes (BHI) , Blackstone (BX) , Bristol-Meyers (BMY) , Caterpillar (CAT) , Eli Lilly (LLY) , First Bancorp (FBP) , First Financial (FFIN) , Fitbit (FIT) , Ford Motor (F) , Harley-Davidson (HOG) , HCA (HCA) , Microsoft (MSFT) , National Bank (NBHC) , Northrop Grumman (NOC) , Nucor (NUE) , Raytheon (RTN) , Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) , Time Warner Cable (TWC) , Valero Energy (VLO) , and Visa (V) .
Friday, January 29: AbbVie (ABBV) , Aetna (AET) , American Airlines (AAL) , Anadarko Petroleum (APC) , Banco Santander (BSAC) , Chevron (CVX) , Colgate-Palmolive (CL) , Honda Motor (HMC) , Honeywell (HON) , MasterCard (MA) , Mattel (MAT) , Phillips 66 (PSX) , Sony (SNE) , Whirlpool (WHR) , and Xerox (XRX) .
Tuesday January 26
U.S. Federal Reserve's FOMC Meeting Begins
FHFA House Price Index
S&P Case-Shiller HPI
Wednesday, January 27
MBA Mortgage Applications
New Home Sales
EIA Petroleum Status Report
FOMC Meeting Announcement
Thursday, January 28
Durable Goods Orders
EIA Natural Gas Report
Friday, January 29
Baker-Hughes Rig Count
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