The Federal Reserve's midweek meeting — coupled with a marquee list of corporate earnings reports — could make the week ahead among the most important of the summer.
There are also several key economic reports, with the biggest being second-quarter GDP Friday, now expected at 2.5 percent.
The Fed is not expected to take any action at its two-day meeting, but it could provide more details Wednesday as to when it might start to scale back its $4.5 trillion balance sheet and what it currently thinks about a now fourth month of weaker inflation data.
For the stock market, however, it could be the make-or-break week for earnings season, with more than a third of the S&P 500 companies and 13 Dow stocks reporting. FANG names— Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet — are among about 180 S&P companies reporting, as are Exxon Mobil, Caterpillar, United Technologies, McDonald's, and Boeing.
Stocks were mostly higher for the week, but the Dow lagged, with a small decline. The Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 hit new all-time highs in the past week, but finished Friday slightly below those levels.
The earnings season is expected to be strong but not as strong as last quarter's 15 percent growth. So far, 74 percent of S&P 500 companies have beaten earnings estimates, and the rate of earnings growth, including those that have reported, is now expected at about 9.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.
"It plays in with other favorable facts," said Paul Christopher, head global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "With the Fed being perceived as dovish, and the economy expected to do better in the second half of the year, we're still expecting 6 percent earnings growth. It's going to be good but not spectacular earnings."