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FOMC minutes, retail earnings — What to know in the week ahead

Investors will be monitoring the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes and retail earnings this week.

Though the minutes from the FOMC’s October policy meeting are unlikely to reveal new information on the central bank’s monetary policy path, it will provide color on the deliberations that resulted in the third consecutive rate cut this year. Furthermore, two voting members dissented the latest rate decision, and investors will be looking for further clues on the split committee.

“The October Fed minutes are mostly old news given the recent testimony from Chair Jerome Powell, but they should still provide a more detailed picture of how broad the support was for signalling an extended pause at the October meeting,” Capital Economics wrote in a note Friday.

Nomura pointed out that the minutes released on Wednesday will likely cover two FOMC meetings during the month — the policy setting meeting October 29-30 and the unscheduled meeting on October 4 when the committee discussed the balance sheet policy adjustments. “For the latter meeting, we expect the discussion to focus on how the Committee’s decision to commence expanding the balance sheet by buying T-bills does not represent a return to crisis-era quantitative easing policy.”

Shoppers arrive for the Black Friday sale event on Thanksgiving Day at Target in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Retail, retail, retail

Earnings season has slowed significantly, but this week retail will take centerstage. Home Depot, Kohl’s, Target, Lowe’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom are among some of the heavyweights scheduled to release quarterly results.

Retail earnings come on the heels of the Commerce Department’s release of October retail sales data Friday. Retail sales rebounded in October and rose 0.3% during the month, after a surprise dip in September. October’s report revealed that while spending remained strong, consumers displayed a more cautious approach by pulling back on bigger purchases. However, sales at U.S. nonstore retailers, a gauge of online purchases, jumped 14% from the same period last year.

With holiday shopping season well underway, commentary from major retailers regarding holiday shopping will give investors a further read on the health of the U.S. consumer.

Several big box retailers will be in focus following Walmart’s blowout third quarter. The stock soared to record highs after the retailer’s strong results quelled fears that the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China and the tariffs on Chinese imports would suppress business for American retailers. Analysts previously estimated that Walmart imports about 26% of its merchandise from China.

Walmart proved its focus on e-commerce and grocery is paying off. While general merchandise is pressured by the tariffs, grocery items are largely unaffected. Grocery brings in more than half of total revenue in the U.S. for Walmart.

Economic calendar

Monday: NAHB Housing Market Index, November (71 expected, 71 in October); Net Long-term TIC Flows, September (-$41.1 billion prior); Total Net TIC Flows, September ($70.5 billion prior)

Tuesday: Building Permits, October (1.385 million expected, 1.391 million in September); Housing Starts, October (1.320 million expected, 1.256 million in September)

Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended November 15 (9.6% prior)

Thursday: Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook, November (6.6 expected, 5.6 in October); Initial Jobless Claims, week ended November 16 (219,000 expected, 225,000 prior); Continuing Claims, week ended November 9 (1.683 million expected, 1.683 million prior); Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, week ended November 17 (58 prior); Leading Index, October (-0.2% expected, -0.1% in September); Existing Home Sales, October (5.50 million expected, 5.38 million in September)

Friday: Markit US Services PMI, November preliminary (51.5 expected, 51.0 prior); Markit US Manufacturing PMI, November preliminary (51.5 expected, 51.3 prior); Markit US Composite PMI, November preliminary (50.9 prior); University of Michigan Sentiment, November final (95.7 expected, 95.7 prior)

Earnings calendar

Monday: N/A

Tuesday: Kohl’s (KSS), TJX Companies (TJX), Home Depot (HD) before market open; Urban Outfitters (URBN) after market close

Wednesday: Lowe’s (LOW), Target (TGT) before market open; L Brands (LB), Sonos (SONO) after market close

Thursday: BJ’s Wholesale Club (BJ), Macy’s (M), Jack in the Box (JACK) before market open; Gap (GPS), Nordstrom (JWN), Ross Stores (ROST) after market close

Friday: Foot Locker (FL)

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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