Market Wrap-up for Jan. 5 - 3 Big Market Stories to Watch This Week

Market Wrap-up for Jan. 5 – 3 Big Market Stories to Watch This Week

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The first full week of trading of 2015 had a weak kickoff this morning, with U.S. stocks pulling back amid continued oil weakness. Here are three key market events to watch for this week, which could help determine the market’s direction as we progress through January.

1. Monsanto’s Q1 Earnings Report

Agriculture products behemoth Monsanto (MON) will report its fiscal first quarter earnings before the opening bell on Wednesday, January 7. Analysts are expecting a big drop in both profit and revenue for the period, so lackluster results won’t come as any kind of surprise. Perhaps the biggest question coming out of MON’s report will be if the company still believes it can more than double its full-year EPS from FY2014 to FY2019.

Without many other major earnings releases this week, Monsanto’s report is sure to take center stage.

2. The Fed Minutes

Wednesday, January 7 will also bring the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, which took place back in mid-December. Investors, as usual, will be keying in on any hints of rate hikes, or any other changes in the Fed’s sentiment toward the economy and job market.

Considering the markets rose about 5.5% in the days following December’s meeting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see further bullish action after the release of the Fed minutes.

3. The December Jobs Report

Due on Friday, January 9, the Labor Department’s latest report will give investors a look into how the labor market performed in December. November’s blowout report showed strong job growth, and analysts expect more strength when the December numbers are reported. On average, analysts are looking for 215,000 new jobs for December. Meanwhile, the official unemployment number, which was unchanged at 5.8% in November, is expected to fall to 5.7%.

One would think that another blowout jobs report would likely be a positive catalyst for the markets, but that’s not necessarily the case. November’s rosy results barely budged stocks, and we actually sold off considerably in the week following the report before bouncing sharply in mid-December. Still, at least in the short term, expect the jobs number to have an impact on the markets late this week.

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