The world just got a bit scarier for risk assets.
On Thursday morning, the Swiss National Bank shocked the world by removing its cap on the Swiss franc against the euro, causing its currency to soar and the euro to plunge—and creating fears about more sudden central bank moves. Meanwhile, global growth concerns continue to drive industrial commodities like copper and crude oil to multi-year lows.
With the U.S. serving as one of the world's few bastions of security and growth, the dollar continues to soar and Treasury yields are plummeting in a bid for safe havens. The question now: How long can America continue to shine in an increasingly uncertain and slow-growing world?
A key clue could come in the week ahead, as a slate of major companies report their fourth-quarter results and release forward guidance. Most closely watched will be energy companies like Halliburton and Baker Hughes, consumer discretionary names like Starbucks and McDonald's, and industrial giants like GE.
The overarching questions will be whether the soaring dollar and plunging energy prices are helping or hurting—and just how much the weakening global environment is a concern for corporate managers.
"What I'm going to be watching for is some clarity from the companies in terms of the decline in the price of oil, and the decline of interest rates and the rise of the dollar," said John Conlon, chief investment officer at People's United Bank. "I'm going to see if there's some consensus developing in terms of the price of oil and interest rates."