In The Spotlight - Big Wall Street Banks As The Main Power In SP500

Stock investors are braced for what could be another volatile week as the Q4 earnings season heats up.

Banks’ earnings

Big Wall Street banks are in the spotlight right out of the gate with Goldman Sachs GS set to release results before markets open. They will be followed by Bank of America BAC, Morgan Stanley MS, and U.S. Bancorp USB tomorrow (Wednesday). Bank results got off to a mixed start on Friday. JPMorgan Chase JPM, Citigroup C, and Wells Fargo WFC all topped profit estimates for Q4 but JPMorgan and Citi delivered disappointments in other areas.

In particular, investors are nervous about higher expenses that cut into Q4 profits for both JPMorgan and Citi and which both banks forecast would continue to weigh on results in 2022. JPMorgan and Citi also saw -11% decreases in trading revenue, with fixed-income trading down by double digits for both.

There are also signs of slowing loan growth that some analysts worry is an early sign of slowing consumer demand for big-ticket items as inflation continues to climb. While banks will eventually benefit from higher U.S. interest rates that are anticipated in the year ahead, a big pullback in consumer lending is a threat to some of the more lofty Wall Street expectations had for the sector in 2022.

Global economy

Globally, not a lot changed over the extended weekend. China might have provided a bit of a surprise with additional monetary easing into a struggling GDP and sagging real estate prices. It's worth noting, Omicron has now been detected in Beijing for the first time, just three weeks before the city is due to host the Winter Olympics. Now the Chinese are shutting down and suspending the sale of Olympic tickets to the public.

Tensions remain heated between Hong Kong activists and Chinese government officials. North Korea launched its fourth missile test this month. After North Korea's missile test last week, the US announced sanctions on eight North Korean and Russian individuals and entities for supporting North Korea's ballistic missile programs.

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia seem to be headed in the wrong direction with Russia over the weekend moving troops and equipment into Belarus for joint military exercises.

The so-called "Allied Resolve" drills are set to take place near borders with NATO members Poland and Lithuania, as well as Ukraine where Russia has maintained its alarming military presence.

Most U.S. military experts don't really think Russia has any real intentions of invading Ukraine or any other EU country. However, Western countries also have increased their military presence along borders and other strategic locations which increases the chances that a broader conflict could "accidentally" be sparked.

Europe's gas supplies are also at risk as Russia continues to dangle the threat of cutting them off. Most of the tension stems from Russia's demand that former Soviet countries be barred from entering NATO, something the U.S. and other NATO allies have refused.

In the USA, we are heading deeper into earnings season and investors are going to be paying close attention to costs and expenses. As I mentioned, late last week, JPMorgan warned that higher expenses and higher spending on hiring in 2022 could create some headwinds.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how many executive teams start providing guidance and warnings that corporate expenses are rising faster than anticipated and what if any damage will be due to profit margins?

Remember, some companies have said they are passing the additional rising costs on to the consumer while other companies are eating a majority of the higher expenses in an attempt to gain more market share.

How the stock market decides to differentiate the strategy and style could greatly impact money flow and valuations. Goldman Sachs, J.B. Hunt, Charles Schwab, Citrix, Concentrix, and Interactive Brokers report earnings today.

Data to watch

Tomorrow we have Alcoa AA, Bank of America, Kinder Morgan KMI, Morgan Stanley, Procter & Gamble PG, and United Airlines UAL.

Thursday we have American Airlines AAL, Baker Hughes BKR, Netflix NFLX, and Union Pacific.

Then next week we have big names like Apple APPL, Boeing BA, Caterpillar CAT, McDonalds MCD, Microsoft MSFT and Verizon VZ reporting earnings.

Let's also not forget next week we have the first Fed FOMC meeting of the new year.

With the U.S. Federal Reserve getting ever closer to implementing its first rate hikes, which most anticipate will begin in March, investors are growing less enchanted with some of the high-growth and momentum stocks that saw outsized share price gains last year.

This trend is most evident in the tech-heavy Nasdaq where nearly half of the index's stocks have fallen by -50% from their recent peaks. The Nasdaq itself is only down by about -7% from its most recent record high. The selloff has been very much concentrated in highly-leveraged companies that have yet to deliver a profit, as the prospect of higher rates reduce future profit potential. Earnings results from these high-fliers will likely be harshly scrutinized as Wall Street tries to separate the "wheat from the chaff," so to speak.

On the economic data front, Empire State Manufacturing and the NAHB Housing Market are today's highlights.

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Posted In: EarningsNewsbankscontributorsfinancialS&P 500Wall Street
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