"Change" should be the driver of stocks this week. With elections proceeding on Tuesday in the United States, including of the presidential variety, the perceived future for stocks could be affected. Meanwhile, Communist China will appoint new leadership on Thursday, which given the importance of the world's largest market segment, matters greatly as well. And finally, in Greece, Parliament will take up austerity again, and Greece's unions will strike against them. Before the week is finished, we'll have updated forecasts for the eurozone economy and for the oil market, and stocks and commodities should be appropriately impacted. So, indeed, it will be change that dictates trade this week; in some cases political and in others to economic forecasts. And let's not forget that earnings season continues in heavy flow, with key reports from more than a few very relative companies.
Last week's tumultuous trading led the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) and PowerShares QQQ (QQQ) to close out a storm-shortened week relatively unchanged. In contrast, this week should produce a clear direction, and one which I believe should be higher. That said, everything hangs on the election and on how much change actually takes place.
The all important American service sector gets a check up when the Institute for Supply Management Reports on its Non-Manufacturing Index Monday. However, markets are likely to be equally interested in what happens in Greece Monday, where the Greek Parliament will again be discussing austerity. Not coincidentally, all of Greece's unions will strike on Tuesday, and you can expect it to be as ugly as ever if the Greek government keeps on the path least chosen by sensible minds in times of economic strife.
Tuesday offers the American presidential election, through which wholesale economic philosophical change could channel. The results won't be in for at least a day, and in a worst case scenario, not until weeks later, so investors may be on edge for a time. I am of the opinion that Mitt Romney will become the nation's next President, and I expect the market will celebrate such a result as early as this week.
The Europeans could rain on our parade though if the European Commission significantly cuts eurozone economic forecasts as I suspect they will on Wednesday. Though the ECB and Bank of England will get a chance to make amends Thursday when they issue new monetary policy.
The change in the Chinese regime could prove inconsequential if the nation's government based on the communist version of equality were run by robots. China is, however, run by individuals with varying personalities, tendencies and world views. Thus, the result could prove interesting and influential to markets and its participants. China will release new economic data on Friday, which might shed some light on the perspectives of the nation's new leaders, should they comment publicly on them.
Closing out the week Friday, we'll also get new consumer sentiment data, but I'm concerned that the latest increases seen in confidence have been based on hope more than substance. OPEC will issue its Monthly Oil Report Friday, giving the dynamic commodity a push in one direction or another. The presidential result in the U.S. may have as much to say about what oil prices do this week as this sector specific data.
On the corporate earnings front, the most critical EPS reports on the week will likely come from Toyota (TM), Southern Company (SO), Time Warner Cable (TWC), Emerson Electric (EMR), Devon Energy (DVN), Macy's (M), Qualcomm (QCOM), Whole Foods Market (WFM), WellPoint (WLP), Kellogg (K), 3M (MMM), Dean Foods (DF), NVIDIA (NVDA), Walt Disney (DIS), MGIC Investment (MTG) and Zhongpin (HOGS). From this group of names we will get good reads on critical sectors of the economy, ranging from manufacturing industrials to computer and electronics, to healthcare, to food and consumer discretionary. Change could be coming in many varieties this week indeed, so fasten your seat belts for a fast and frenzied foray.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.