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This week: Big news on banks and the housing market

Investors in the week ahead just might get a break from the staggering news cycle that has dominated in June.

There's only a smattering of economic data on the calendar, with the one big piece of market news likely to come from banks. Still, savvy investors will be keeping their eyes open for a few key developments on tap.

Traders work as a television monitor displays Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announcing the Fed's decision to raise interest rates on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) June 14, 2017 in New York City.
Getty Images
Traders work as a television monitor displays Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announcing the Fed's decision to raise interest rates on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) June 14, 2017 in New York City.

About those interest rates...

The Federal Reserve provided the most drama for the markets last week when it raised rates, as expected, but did so with a dose of optimism about the economy and with more details on how it will unwind those big stimulus programs it put in place during the crisis.

This week we should get to hear some of the central bank's officials explain why they did what they did.

Monday features New York Fed President Bill Dudley leading a business roundtable in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia's Charles Evans speaking in New York; Robert Kaplan of Dallas talks Tuesday in San Francisco; Gov. Jerome Powell speaks to the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday; and Jim Bullard of St. Louis, Loretta Mester of Cleveland and Powell are on tap Friday.

Not all will be policy speeches, but any could move markets.

Testing the banks

The Federal Reserve will also deliver a report on the health of 34 of the nation's biggest banks this week.

The results of the stress tests, as they're called, are due out after the market closes on Thursday.

Why you should care: There are a couple reasons these tests are important to the typical investor. First, we'll get a further picture into how stable the financial system is eight years after the end of the financial crisis. These tests were designed to see if the banks could handle the "stress" of a crisis of that magnitude. Second, we could get some visibility on how much capital banks will be able to return to investors (i.e., dividends). The full release on how much capital banks can return is expected to be released on June 28.

Construction workers build a single-family home in San Diego.
Mike Blake | Reuters
Construction workers build a single-family home in San Diego.

Two key reports on housing

Two big economic reports are due out this week— and they're both about the housing market.

Existing home sales numbers come out on Wednesday, and Friday will feature new homes sales data. Housing has been one of the weakest parts of the economy as of late, and if that doesn't turn around soon, it could put a damper on second-half growth.

For the political junkies

With President Donald Trump's approval ratings tumbling, according to most surveys, a few special elections could foretell what type of fate he'll face during next year's midterms.

Georgia and South Carolina have critical congressional races, with two seats vacated by members who took Cabinet positions.

In Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel are up for the 6th Congressional District seat left vacant when U.S. Rep. Tom Price let to become Trump's Health and Human services secretary. The race is a seen as a proxy for national sentiment.

In South Carolina, Republican Ralph Norman and Democrat Archie Parnell are battling for the 5th Congressional District seat left vacant when U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney resigned to become Trump's budget director. Parnell leads in the polls, but the race has been tightening.

The last word

June and the first half of the year are rapidly coming to a close. Now comes a flurry of forecasts for what investors should expect for the second half of 2017. We'll leave you thoughts from the sagacious Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. " How will the second half of 2017 unfold? Probably better than most expect," Stovall advises.

His predictions:

  • U.S. economic growth (GDP) will rise above 3 percent
  • There probably won't be a recession but recent weakening in housing is something to watch
  • (The Fed) is likely to raise interest rates one more time this year, with the possibility of three more in 2018
  • The collective earnings from S&P 500 companies will climb 10.5 percent in 2017 and an additional 12.0 percent in 2018
  • Sector earnings growth will range from +3.5 percent for telecom companies to +44 percent for energy companies in 2018
  • International markets have begun to recover but still remain attractively valued for investors.