Market Insider

Home Depot earnings and inflation data will get attention as markets wait for tax news

Key Points
  • Home Depot and other retailers are due to report earnings Tuesday before the opening bell, as the market is on high alert for any developments on tax reform.
  • PPI producer price inflation data will be released Tuesday, but markets are awaiting the more important CPI on Wednesday for what consumer inflation levels might indicate about the Fed's rate hiking plans.
  • Tax legislation is top of mind so markets will focus on any new developments as Thursday's vote in the House is awaited.
Customers shop at a Home Depot store on July 26, 2017 in Chicago.
Getty Images

Home Depot and several other retailers are slated to report before the opening bell Tuesday, as markets watch tax-reform bills wind through Congress and wait to see whether this week's inflation data will make a difference for the Fed.

Besides the big home improvement chain, retailers TJX Cos, Advance Auto Parts and Dick's Sporting Goods are due to report early-morning earnings. The Sector SPDR S&P Retail ETF was down about 1.2 percent Monday, but Home Depot and TJX were both higher ahead of earnings. Beazer Homes, International Game Technology and Pershing Square Holdings also release their results Tuesday.

Producer price inflation is expected Tuesday, with the release of PPI at 8:30 a.m. But markets care more about the CPI, the consumer price index to be reported Wednesday. PPI is expected to rise 0.1 percent for October, or 2.4 percent year over year. The CPI is expected to rise 0.2 percent of 1.7 percent year over year, according to Thomson Reuters.

"You're fully priced in for a December rate hike," said Justin Lederer, rate strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. "There's continued pressure in short-term Treasurys with the Fed in play." The yield was at 1.69 percent late Monday.

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After Wednesday's CPI, the next release is November CPI on Dec. 13, the same day that the Fed is expected to announce its next rate hike. So October data is considered important as one of the final looks at inflation before the Fed meets. There is PCE inflation data expected on Nov. 30, and that is the Fed's preferred measure for inflation. It was up 1.6 percent last month, still below the Fed's 2 percent target.

"Even if you get inflation slightly higher than expected, it's still not runaway inflation," Lederer said.

The House is expected to vote on its version of the tax bill Thursday, and details continue to come out on the Senate plan.

Jack Ablin, CIO at BMO Private Bank said he believes the market is still skeptical, based on the narrowing spread between large caps and small caps performance. Small caps would be helped by a tax cut more than large caps and should outperform more if the market had confidence in the bill getting approved soon.

"I'm looking for 5 percent upside if we get it, 5 percent downside if we don't," he said.

Stocks were slightly higher Monday, as were bond yields. Yields move opposite price, and the selloff was blamed in part on a good number of new corporate debt issues that were priced Monday. According to Informa Global Markets, there was $10.9 billion in high grade debt issued, pushing the year-to-date total to $1.257 trillion. That compares to 2016's total of $1.286 trillion, according to Informa.

Monday's issuers included Carlisle Companies, Citrix Systems, Deutsche Bank, CBS and Consolidated Edison, according to Informa.

Ablin said he is watching credit markets for early warning signals for the stock market, but so far there are no signs of trouble, and he considered last week's selloff in junk bonds to be minor.

"None of my metrics are flipping. What I think I'm actually going to pay attention to and certainly everyone should start to look at are upgrades and downgrades. Credit agencies were criticized so much for moving in a flat-footed manner that any credit deterioration is going to be picked up more quickly," he said. "We'll maybe see credit downgrades before we see spreads widen."

In the early morning New York time, Fed Chair Janet Yellen will appear on a panel with three other major central bankers: Bank of England's Mark Carney, ECB's Mario Draghi and Bank of Japan's Haruhiko Kuroda. Lederer said he's watching for headlines from the 5 a.m. ET event. "When you have four major central banks together, it's always worth seeing what the headlines are," he said.

The NFIB, meanwhile, is slated to release the small business survey at 6 a.m. ET.

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