The strategists at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) this month didn't mince words: 2016 will be a "cataclysmic year," as China's economic slowdown, plunging energy prices, and various currency crises all converge to crush global markets. Their stark advice: "Sell everything."
To be sure, it's been an unhappy new year for investors. But how concerned should you be about a repeat of 2008? Last week, we actually saw signs that corporate earnings and stocks have some mojo left.
The S&P 500 soared 2.5% on Friday, driven by a rise in oil prices for the fourth day in a row and solid earnings results from companies such as Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) , MasterCard (MA - Get Report) , and Visa (V - Get Report) .
The coming week will provide important clues as to the rate of U.S. economic growth we can expect in 2016. On the docket are the operating results of stocks that are bellwethers in their respective sectors, as well as key economic, consumer and business data.
Speaking of investment clues, investors have learned that it typically pays to follow the buying-and-selling choices of stock-picking guru Warren Buffett, so this week's operating reports warrant particular scrutiny. A raft of Buffett-owned companies report earnings this week, including Moody's (MCO - Get Report) , Mondelez International (MDLZ - Get Report) , Suncor Energy (SU - Get Report) , UPS (UPS - Get Report) , and USG (USG) .
Meanwhile, whatever challenges investors face in the coming year, it appears that the anticipated cataclysm is on hold -- for now. The latest economic data portend a slowdown, not a disaster.
The U.S. Commerce Dept. on Friday released data that confirmed the economic recovery is on track, albeit in unspectacular fashion. Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an annual rate of only 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015, tepid growth brought on by slowing sales of consumer durable goods and a weakening trade balance stemming from a robust U.S. dollar.
However, consumer spending, job growth and the services sector held up well in the quarter, helping propel full-year 2015 GDP growth to 2.4%, equal to last year's growth and higher than the 1.5% increase recorded for 2013.
Can this momentum continue? Let's take a closer look at the key events of the week ahead.
Tuesday: Baxter (BAX - Get Report) , BE Aerospace (BEAV) , CIT Group (CIT - Get Report) , Dow Chemical (DOW) , Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) , Gilead Sciences (GILD - Get Report) , Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) , (UPS - Get Report) and Yahoo! (YHOO) .
Wednesday: ABB (ABB - Get Report) , Avery Dennison (AVY - Get Report) , Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) , General Motors (GM - Get Report) , Marathon Petroleum (MPC - Get Report) , Merck (MRK - Get Report) , Mondelez International, Suncor Energy and Yum! Brands (YUM - Get Report) .
Thursday: ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) , Credit Suisse (CS - Get Report) , Dominion (D - Get Report) , Dunkin Brands (DNKN - Get Report) , FleetCor (FLT - Get Report) , Kelly Services (KELYA - Get Report) , News Corp. NWSA, Philip Morris International (PM - Get Report) and Royal Dutch Shell (RYDAF) .
Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure
PMI Manufacturing Index
ISM Mfg Index
Motor Vehicle Sales
MBA Mortgage Applications
ADP Employment Report
PMI Services Index
ISM Non-Mfg Index
EIA Petroleum Status Report
EIA Natural Gas Report
Baker-Hughes Rig Count
What is Warren Buffett buying and selling?As we explain above, several Warren Buffett-owned stocks report operating results this week. Click here to learn more about the stocks that Buffett is now buying and selling. Buy these fast-growing stocks and watch your portfolio beat the market year after year, just like the Oracle of Omaha himself. For clues into the strategy of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A - Get Report) for 2016 and beyond, download your free report now.