Retail and media company earnings, inflation data and Fed speakers will keep investors busy as markets head into the dog days of August.
What has been a solid earnings season will begin to wind down in the week ahead, but first Disney and News Corp report, as do retailers Macy's, Nordstrom, Kohl's and JCPenney. Recent IPOs Snap and Blue Apron, both disappointing market performers, report their results on Thursday.
Producer and consumer inflation is reported at the end of the week, but it is the consumer price index Friday that markets will be most focused on after the July jobs report showed another month of soft wage growth and other inflation measures continued to look weak.
Core CPI is expected to rise 0.2 percent after moving up just 0.1 percent for June. Markets remain skeptical the Fed will raise rates in December but it is widely expected to start the process of reducing its balance sheet when it meets in August. The lack of inflation continues to make markets skeptical the Fed will meet its forecast for another interest rate hike by year end.
Fed speakers are out in force, with the most important likely to be New York Fed President William Dudley. He will be speaking Thursday morning about wage inequality in his region. That will be important because Dudley could discuss the lack of wage acceleration and the Fed's view on whether low inflation appears to be transitory or a longer term problem.
Focus will also remain on Washington, even as Congress slows down for August recess. In September, Congress is expected to tackle the budget and debt ceiling, which some strategist worry will not go smoothly.