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Market movers this week: Get ready for the Fed, housing reports and earnings

Investors just keep watching the stock market go ever higher, smashing new records on an almost daily basis. This week, they'll have plenty more to watch in terms of market-moving developments.

The highlights:

The Fed meeting

The Federal Reserve meets Tuesday and Wednesday for its last gathering of the summer. While you might think Fed-watching is just for policy dorks, it's not.

As the U.S. central bank, the Fed, in addition to regulating banks, also sets the interest rates you pay for all kinds of debt. This week's meeting isn't expected to bring news of a rate increase, but the market is still watching closely.

There could be some important language tweaks in the statement the Fed issues after its two-day session. The statement also is likely to include details about how the central bank unwinds all that money-printing stimulus it provided to the economy during and after the financial crisis.

Here's some good advice from NerdWallet about how both consumers and investors should view Fed news:

"If you currently have credit-card debt, the clock is officially ticking to pay down the balance before the next Fed hike, which is likely later this year," said Kimberly Palmer, credit cards expert at NerdWallet, which provides information for investors and consumers. "Making early payments by redirecting a portion of savings or income toward that debt can save consumers money by reducing interest payments while rates remain stagnant in the short term."

Los Angeles, California
P. Eoche | Getty Images
Los Angeles, California

Four reports on housing

One of the big economic puzzles this year has been the decline in the housing market. Interest rates that are still low and there are plenty of buyers out there but the sector has struggled and contributed to the mediocre first-half growth of the broader economy.

Hopes, however, are starting to rise. Mortgage applications, housing starts and permits all rose in June, providing some glimmer that real estate might be on the rebound. Investors this week will get housing data almost every day to put that theory to the test.

Monday brings existing home sales, Tuesday is the closely watched Case-Shiller home price index, Wednesday is new home sales and Thursday will provide numbers on vacancies.

Watch the Case-Shiller numbers especially to see if the buyers' market is still propelling prices higher.

A first look at the second quarter

Speaking of the economy, Friday brings maybe the biggest data point of the week.

That's when the government will release its first estimate for second-quarter growth. Economists expect GDP to have bounced 2.5 percent after a pretty dismal 1.4 percent growth rate in the first three months of the year.

Even that number isn't terrific, but it could signal that the economy is getting out of its 2 percent doldrums. The Trump administration no doubt will be watching the second quarter GDP report closely.

The profit picture

It's a really big week for company earnings as well. Investors watch the reports not only for learning what happened in the last quarter but how corporate executives view prospects for the rest of the year.

So far, the news has been pretty good. Of the 19 percent of companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, a glittering 73 percent have beaten analyst estimates on profits, and 77 percent have topped on sales, according to FactSet.

Those are good numbers to tee up another week of earnings season. The highlights:

  • Monday: Google parent Alphabet.
  • Tuesday: 3M, Caterpillar, duPont, Eli Lilly, GM, McDonald's, AT&T, Texas Instruments.
  • Wednesday: Boeing, Coca-Cola, Ford, Facebook, State Street.
  • Thursday: Comcast, Conoco-Phillips, Dow Chemical, MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, Twitter, Verizon, Intel.
  • Friday: Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Merck.
Zach Gibson | Reuters

Politics

The Fed isn't the only game in town this week in Washington.

Some of the highlights on the political landscape include the likelihood that the Senate will vote, in a mostly ceremonial measure, on whether to proceed on the all-but-dead health-care bill, while the upper house also will take up the nomination of Randal Quarles to the Federal Reserve board on Thursday. If confirmed, Quarles will be the overseer for the nation's bank system.

President Donald Trump will be in Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday evening for a campaign-style rally.

The last word

Arielle O'Shea, NerdWallet's investing and retirement specialist, offers this advice on what investors should be considering when it comes to the Fed:

"The market is getting pretty good at predicting the Fed's moves, and that's a good thing: It means investors are less likely to see turbulence from each Fed decision, provided the announcements don't throw out any curve balls. Because you're in this for the long game, you're positioned to ride out any market volatility, whether caused by a Fed meeting or another economic event. Instead of reacting to every change in the market, use this time to revisit your investment plan, make sure you're on track, and increase your savings rate if you have the means to do so."

So keep your focus long-term but understand what's happening in the short term. Seems like a great way to approach every investing week.