The Federal Reserve takes center stage in the coming week with its highly anticipated policy meeting in December set for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Economists anticipate few big surprises in terms of policy change: a December rate hike has been telegraphed for months and the economic data has backed up a shift to policy normalization for some time.
"There's almost no question," Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, told TheStreet. "In September when they published the dot plot, [a majority] out of 17 members said, 'We're going to raise rates this year.' So when it comes to the end of the year, if you said you were going to do it, you pretty much have to do it."
Members of the Federal Open Market Committee will convene on Tuesday for their two-day meeting, culminating in a statement Wednesday afternoon. The likelihood of a rate hike when the Fed meets currently sits at 95%, according to CME Group fed funds futures. Most are anticipating an increase of 25 basis points with a few economists even suggesting the slim chance of an increase of 50 basis points.
This meeting also comes with a lot of extra material for economists to sift through, including forecasts and the dot-plot matrix and comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen at an afternoon press conference. All will be closely scrutinized for hints of what the Fed's future plans look like.
"It's all about what the clues will be for 2017," added North. "The whole package is going to be a little bit more hawkish than before and if it's significantly more hawkish than you could see global financial markets coming under pressure ... Our leaning right now is two to three hikes in 2017. My guess is they're going to try and signal that it's going to be four but I don't think that's going to be the case."
The central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-percent to a range of 0.25% to 0.5% last December, the first time it has made a move higher since June 2006. The vote was unanimous. The Fed has left rates unchanged since then.
It's also a busy week on the economic calendar. Producer and consumer prices for November, out Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, will shine a light on how quickly inflation is reaching the Fed's 2% target. Retail sales and industrial production for November will be released on Wednesday; the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook and the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for December will be issued on Thursday; and housing starts for November on Friday.
"The coming week should bring more evidence of consumer strength, business optimism and rising prices, all of which should support the bullish mood in markets," BNP Paribas analysts wrote in a note.
In earnings in the coming week, Verifone Systems (PAY) will report on Monday; Heico (HEI) , GMS (GMS) and Nordson (NDSN) on Tuesday; Joy Global (JOY) and Pier 1 Imports (PIR) on Wednesday; and Jabil Circuit (JBL) on Thursday.