With US markets closed today for Martin Luther King Day, stock markets around the world have been holding steady overnight, as is common on US holidays. The rest of this week, however, has the potential to be quite active with a number of political and economic developments scheduled.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Over the weekend, reports have been coming out that suggest he is planning to kick off his term with a number of Presidential orders and directives related to the economy, immigration, trade and other areas for dealing with COVID and starting to unwind some Trump-era policies.
In terms of the potential impact on today’s trading in the open Canadian market, the most significant report has been that Biden intends to block the Keystone XL pipeline, picking up where he left off as VP in the Obama Administration. This could potentially impact the price differential between the US WTI and Western Canadian Select benchmark crude oil prices and through that, potentially impact sentiment toward energy stocks. So far today, WTI is down 0.4% while WCS is down 2.5%. Both of those declines pale in comparison, however, to the 5.0% plunge underway in the natural gas price as temperatures remain unseasonably warm in some consuming regions, depressing peak winter heating season demand.
In other news this week, there are a number of central bank meetings planned in Canada, Europe and Japan. The Bank of Canada is expected to hold interest rates steady but investors may look for hints on whether the bank has any plans to increase stimulus with lockdowns deepening and being extended across the country. The European Central Bank and Bank of Japan added stimulus at their last meetings in December so they appear unlikely to do so again this time.
Earnings season continues to ramp up this week with more results from US airlines plus national and regional banks. Reports are also expected to start coming in from railroads, technology, oilfield services, industrials and other sectors. Headliners include: Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Halliburton on Tuesday, P&G and UnitedHealth on Wednesday, Intel, IBM, Travelers Insurance, and Union Pacific on Thursday, wrapping up with Honeywell and Schlumberger on Friday.
The economic data calendar is light this week until Friday when Flash Manufacturing and Flash Service PMI reports come out from the US, UK, Germany and others bringing the first peek at January economic conditions, plus Canadian retail sales.