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The markets this week: Three things to watch as June comes to a close

The second quarter is almost over, and it's been a good one for stocks. All of the major benchmarks are up strongly over the past three months, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting a gain of nearly 4 percent.

As we head into the final week of the period, investors should be keeping on eye on three things: Banks, health care and economically sensitive stocks like discretionary, materials and industrials. Here is your guide to the next five days:

Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.

The health of the health-care plan

Republicans are feverishly at work trying to get an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill together.

An important step happens this week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will "score" the plan, or go through it and determine just how much it will cost and how great an impact the GOP plan will have on coverage for Americans.

There's no set date for when that will happen, but it's expected to come early in the week.

Beyond the obvious importance of this, the market has been betting heavily on health care this year. The sector has been the strongest 2017 performer on the S&P 500 with a gain of 16.7 percent, and the best grouping during the second quarter with a rise of 8.2 percent.

Getting health care right has a lot of ramifications and also is likely to be a market mover.

On the economy: Janet Yellen speaks

Though the data flow slows towards the end of the month, there's a lot happening this week, and investors should be paying attention. Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks Tuesday in London. Per Brett Ryan, senior economist at Deutsche Bank, the central bank chief likely will stress that "while the global economy is far from showing signs of overheating, crisis-level monetary stimulus may be less necessary at this point." That means more rate hikes ahead.

All about the banks ... again

The financial crisis crushed the global economy nine years ago. Since then, regulators have been trying to prevent a repeat by testing banks every year to make sure they have enough capital on hand to withstand another severe downturn. Last week saw the first phase of that process; this week marks the second phase—and the more important.

The 34 banks involved in the so-called stress tests all appeared to meet the Federal Reserve's criteria. On Wednesday, the Fed will reveal its views on those banks' plans to return money to shareholders, through dividends and buybacks.

Some banks are looking to return more than 100 percent of profits this year — an important landmark that will show that financial institutions are confident enough to start dipping into their cash stockpiles.

The results also are likely to move the market, so stay tuned.

Highlights of the economic reports and Fed speakers on tap for this week:

  • Monday: Durable goods orders, Dallas Fed activity index, San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks.
  • Tuesday: Consumer confidence, Case-Shiller home prices. Fed speakers include Fed Chair Yellen, Neel Kashkari of Minneapolis, Patrick Harker of Philadelphia and Williams again.
  • Wednesday: Pending home sales
  • Thursday: Final reading of first-quarter GDP
  • Friday: personal income and spending, University of Michigan consumer sentiment report

The last word

Investors have a lot to consider: Tech stocks rebounded, financials fell last week (even after the aforementioned stress tests appeared to be pretty positive) and cash has been flocking into international stock markets.

Making sense of it all this week is the esteemed team of Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Jeff Kleintop, three of the top market strategists at Charles Schwab. In particular, they warn of getting suckered in by valuations in foreign markets:

We believe the pullback in both tech and the overall market was healthy and served to correct some overly optimistic sentiment conditions. But temper your enthusiasm for a sharp rebound like we've seen in the past. The new variable in the equation is a Fed that is more hawkish than the market in terms of the expected trajectory of rate hikes. This has raised concerns over a possible monetary mistake, given lower inflation. Additionally, valuations are stretched; albeit on stronger earnings growth expected for this and next year. We continue to believe that strong earnings growth, a solid economy, still-low interest rates, and ample global liquidity support current valuations; but urge investors to remain disciplined around strategic asset allocations.

In other words: Watch your back, and have a profitable week!