Walmart’s quarterly earnings, US monthly sales and China’s Singles’ Day will create a jam-packed week for the retail sector in advance of the Christmas shopping season.
Fed chair Jay Powell will also deliver closely watched testimony in Congress on the outlook for the US economy.
Here’s what to watch in the week ahead.
Walmart will report third-quarter earnings at a time when the retail behemoth has benefited from heavy investments in its ecommerce business and a strong performance in the US.
The Arkansas-based group is seen as a bellwether for consumer spending. It has more than 5,300 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across the US and 11,300 locations worldwide. Its $514bn in revenue last year was more than double the annual sales of Amazon.
The company, whose shares are up 28 per cent year-to-date, is expected to earn $1.09 per share on an adjusted basis, compared with $1.08 per share in the year-ago period. Revenue is forecast to rise 3 per cent to $128.6bn.
JCPenney will join Walmart in kicking off a string of US retail earnings reports this month. JD.com, the Chinese online retailer, will also disclose earnings.
US economic data
Keeping with the consumer theme, the US census bureau will report retail sales for the month of October after downbeat September figures.
Retail sales have been a bright spot in the US economy this year, but last month showed the largest monthly decline since February. The National Retail Federation had attributed the pullback to consumers’ fears over US-China trade tensions and an early Labor Day holiday.
Spending is expected to rebound in October, with economists predicting 0.2 per cent growth in retail sales. However, ING noted the October sales report is “likely to show another soft reading given weak auto sales numbers.”
Inflation data this week should be little changed, ING added, backing up the case for the Federal Reserve’s recent cuts to interest rates.
The Federal Reserve chairman will head to Capitol Hill on November 13 to testify for the joint economic committee in Congress.
The Fed has slashed rates three times this year. After the latest cut, at the end of October, the central bank signalled it was done easing monetary policy for now, as potential trade- and Brexit-fuelled headwinds subsided. In his customary press conference following the policy meeting, Mr Powell said officials “would need to see a really significant move up in inflation that’s persistent” before considering an increase to rates.
President Donald Trump is also due to give remarks on the economy in a speech at the Economic Club of New York on November 12.
Before the world’s largest retailer reports earnings, Alibaba will host the world’s largest online shopping event that attracts billions of dollars in spending each year.
Alibaba has said it expects Singles’ Day to draw 500m users on November 11, about 100m more than last year.
Alibaba generated more than $30bn in sales during last year’s Singles’ Day. To put that in perspective, Adobe has forecast the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday — the start of the holiday shopping season in the US — will drive $29bn in US online sales.