Monday 24th February 2014
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A key focus this week will be Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen's rescheduled testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday to gauge if the central bank expects to stay on course in its gradual reduction of its bond-buying program.
Earlier this month, Yellen's semi-annual testimony to the House showed policy makers remained upbeat about the outlook for the world's largest economy, even as harsh winter weather weighs on the pace of the recovery.
"The market is trying to figure out where we are-the question still remains was this a weather-induced slowdown or something more," Thomas Roth, senior Treasury trader in New York at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities USA, told Bloomberg News.
In the past five days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.32 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 0.13 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.46 percent.
Over the weekend, the Group of 20 nations said "monetary policy needs to remain accommodative in many advanced economies," adding that they will target to boost global GDP by more than US$2 trillion over the next five years.
Other US Fed officials scheduled to speak in the coming days include Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo who will talk to the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday; Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren who will speak on the economic outlook in Boston, and Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto who will talk on the history of the Fed in Wooster, Ohio, on Wednesday.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and Kansas City Fed President Esther George speak at the Atlanta Fed's annual banking conference, on Thursday; while Fed Governor Jeremy Stein and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota will be part of a panel discussing monetary policy and financial stability in New York, on Friday.
This week the latest US housing data will be monitored closely to see if recent signs of weakness in the real estate sector can be attributed to the severe winter or more fundamental problems. The FHFA and the S&P Case Shiller home price gauges are due on Tuesday, followed by new homes sales on Wednesday, and the pending home sales index on Friday.
Other US economic data scheduled for release include the Chicago Fed national activity index, PMI's preliminary services data, and the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey, due Monday; consumer confidence, and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index, due Tuesday; durable goods orders, and the Kansas City Fed manufacturing index, due Thursday; and Chicago PMI and GDP data, due Friday.
The GDP data is expected to show the economy expanded at 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from a previous reading of 3.2 percent, according to Reuters.
By and large US corporate earnings have justified Wall Street trading near record highs.
About 74 percent of the 433 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results so far this season managed to post results that exceeded expectations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
However, some companies disappointed and investors reacted accordingly. Shares of Groupon plunged, sinking 22 percent on Friday, after the company predicted profit that fell short of expectations.
Companies reporting their latest earnings this week include Home Depot, Macy's and Best Buy.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index added 0.8 percent last week, while the UK's FTSE 100 climbed 2.6 percent. In Germany, the DAX ended the week lower, declining less than 0.1 percent.
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