U.S. stock markets may begin the week with gains as stocks in Asia and Europe advanced after the Greek parliament approved austerity measures demanded by eurozone leaders to secure a bailout package and avoid a messy debt default.
The immediate risk of a disorderly Greek default may have decreased as lawmakers early Monday accepted terms of a deeply unpopular austerity plan. Now the Eurogroup will likely approve the second bailout package which Greece will need by March 20 to avoid a debt default that could hammer European financial markets.
“Approval by the Greek parliament of fresh austerity measures overnight will be greeted with relief by markets. At least for today the market tone will be a positive one as attention shifts to a meeting of EU finance ministers on Wednesday,” said a note from Credit Agricole CIB.
The latest developments will allow investors to turn their attention back to the domestic front with a host of economic data releases scheduled for the week.
The data including January retail sales, manufacturing surveys, inflation and industrial production will provide more evidence of the U.S. recovery. Signs of economic improvement have multiplied in recent weeks as a string of upbeat data releases, mainly January’s employment figures in the U.S. have done much to erase recessionary fears.
The Commerce Department is due to release January Retail sales before the markets open on Tuesday. Economists are expecting the figure to rise by 0.8 percent from 0.1 percent growth in the previous month. The core retail sales, excluding auto, is expected to record 0.6 percent growth compared to the 0.2 percent decline in December.
The Department of Labor is due to report the initial jobless claims data before the opening bell on Thursday. The economists forecast initial jobless claims to be 364,000 for the week ending Feb.11 against 358,000 of the previous week. Any data that is weaker than expected will weigh on market sentiments.
One of the most important data is labour Department release of Consumer Price Index (CPI) on Friday. Top-line inflation likely picked up in January as energy prices rose last month and seasonal factors boosted the gains further. Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB expect CPI to increase by 0.3 percent with a 0.2 percent gain in the core measure that would leave the year-on-year gain in the core measure steady at 2.2 percent.
Housing starts are expected to increase by 2.0 percent to a 670,000 rate in January and Building permits are expected to increase by 1.0 percent, while January industrial production is expected to rise by 0.8 percent.
“The minutes of the last FOMC meeting will be released on Wednesday Feb. 15. They should provide an opportunity to assess how likely a QE3 programme is. If, as it is tempting to assume, progress towards lowering the unemployment rate were insufficient, the Fed could decide to launch this initiative,” said a note from Credit Agricole CIB.
On the earnings front, the season is starting to slow down but still some sector-moving earnings reports from major companies are due for release during the week.
According to a Reuters report, so far 352 companies in the S&P 500 have reported results, of which only 63 percent have beaten Wall Street estimates. This compares to a beat rate of about 70 percent on average for the past four quarters and would be the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2008.
Companies including Zynga, MetLife, NVIDIA Corp, Applied Materials, Avon Products, NetApp, Deere & Co, Apache Corp, Campbell Soup and Duke Energy will report their quarterly earnings during the week.