Market Insider

Earnings news from Apple, Exxon and others could drive stocks, as Fed begins to meet

Closing Bell Exchange: An opportunity to get out

The Fed kicks off a two-day meeting Tuesday, but it may end up being a day where earnings reports matter most.

Reports are expected from ExxonMobil in the morning, Apple in the afternoon and dozens more in between.

Early morning reports are expected from Pfizer, Mastercard, UPS, Aetna and Eli Lilly, while U.S. Steel, Anadarko Petroleum and Aflac join Apple after the closing bell.

"I think that'll drive attention back to markets, and corporate profits and fundamentals — the things markets should focus on," said Marc Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery. Markets will also be watching for the "next one in the ear from the Trump administration."

Luschini said the market has been due for a pullback, so it's no surprise it sold off as President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven countries triggered objection from a number of CEOs and foreign governments.

"You couldn't help but think it was going to spill into market-related action if for no other reason than market participants looking for an excuse take [profits]," he said. "I don't know if it's just one day. I think the market is vulnerable to a more substantial pullback. … I've had my eye on a 5 to 10 percent pullback."

Stocks saw their worst pullback of the year Monday, with the Dow down 122 at 19,971 and the off 13 at 2,280. The dollar waffled but was a little higher late in the day. Treasury yields were mixed with the 10-year at 2.48 percent in late trading.

So far, 66 percent of the S&P 500 companies reporting have beaten earnings estimates. Earnings are up about 6.8 percent from last year.

There is also a batch of data, including the fourth-quarter employment cost index at 8:30 a.m.; S&P/Case-Shiller at 9 a.m.; Chicago PMI at 9:45 a.m.; consumer confidence and housing vacancies, both at 10 a.m.

The Fed releases its statement on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

"They might think March is on the table, but I don't," said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. LaVorgna said he doesn't think the Fed will say much new ahead of details on corporate tax reform and the fiscal spending plan. "I don't know why you would want to be tightening ahead of that."

As the market sold off Monday, traders pointed to the fact that the market has been pricing in corporate tax reform and fiscal spending but still has not gotten any details.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, said he does not expect much action from the Fed either. "Not a lot is happening. The only thing is maybe Trump affected them a little. It was interesting to see the dove of the doves [Fed Gov. Lael] Brainard saying if fiscal policy works it could cause to them to speed up their rate hikes," said Rupkey.

What to expect from Apple ahead of earnings