Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Tuesday, July 31:
1. Apple Reports Earnings
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) results due out after the market close will be today's main event, as a busy week for earnings rolls along.
The world’s largest company by market cap is expected to report adjusted earnings of $2.16 per share for its fiscal third-quarter, a 29% increase from the same period last year, on revenue of $52.3 billion, up about 15% over last year.
In addition to those top- and bottom-line numbers, investors will be paying close attention to iPhone unit sales. Growth in Apple's services business will also be in focus.
More importantly, investors will be looking for crucial second half guidance after disappointing forecasts from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) earlier this month spurred concerns about future growth for a sector that has led U.S. equities to record highs.
The company will host an earnings call at 5:00PM ET.
Besides Apple, a slew of S&P 500 companies are also set to report results on Tuesday.
Before the market open, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM), Cummins (NYSE:CMI), Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL), Steven Madden (NASDAQ:SHOO), Intelsat (NYSE:I), Arconic (NYSE:ARNC), and Lumber Liquidators (NYSE:LL) will be the highlights.
And after the market close, Apple earnings will also be accompanied by results from Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), iQIYI (NASDAQ:IQ), Pandora (NYSE:P), Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM), Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL), and Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC).
2. Federal Reserve Kicks Off Policy Meeting
The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins its two-day policy meeting today, with a decision due Wednesday afternoon.
The U.S. central bank is not expected to take any action on interest rates, but solid economic growth combined with rising inflation are likely keep it on track for another two hikes this year even as President Donald Trump has ramped up criticism of its push to raise rates.
The Fed so far this year has increased borrowing costs in March and June, and investors see additional moves in September and December.
In other central bank news, the Bank of Japan made small tweaks to its ultra-easy monetary policy, rather than more drastic changes that some traders in the market had anticipated.
Those include allowing long-term rates to fluctuate depending on economic and price developments, and conduct asset purchases more flexibly.
In response, yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds (JGBs) pulled back sharply to 0.05% from a 1-1/2 year high of 0.11%. The move in JGBs pushed U.S. 10-year Treasury yields lower too.
3. Fed's Preferred Inflation Metric in Focus
Tuesday's calendar features a closely-watched report on personal income and spending for June, which includes the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) inflation data - the Fed's preferred metric for inflation - at 8:30AM ET.
The consensus forecast is that the report will show that the core PCE price index inched up 0.1% last month, after rising 0.2% a month earlier. On an annualized basis, core PCE prices are expected to rise 2.0%.
The Fed uses core PCE as a tool to help determine whether to raise or lower interest rates, with the aim of keeping inflation at a rate of 2% or below.
There is also the S&P/Case-Shiller house price index (HPI) for May at 9AM ET, followed by the July reading on manufacturing activity in the Midwest at 9:45AM ET, and the CB's latest consumer confidence survey at 10AM ET.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, was barely changed at around 94.15.
4. U.S. Stock Futures Point To Small Gains
U.S. stock futures pointed to small gains at the open, with the major indices on track to break a three-session losing streak, as investors focused on the latest batch of corporate earnings and economic data.
At 5:30AM ET, the tech-heavy NASDAQ 100 futures indicated a gain of 9 points, or about 0.1%, at the open. The blue-chip Dow futures and S&P 500 futures also indicated a slightly higher start to their respective trading sessions.
Wall Street fell on Monday, as an unraveling of popular technology stocks pushed the Nasdaq Composite to its lowest close in more than three weeks.
Elsewhere, in Europe, the region's major bourses struggled for direction, with most sectors moving in different directions, amid a slew of data and corporate releases.
Data showed that while inflation in the euro zone accelerated further above the European Central Bank's goal in July, growth unexpectedly slowed to the weakest in two years.
Earlier, Asian stocks closed narrowly mixed, taking cues from the rout in global technology shares.
5. Oil Prices Limp Lower Ahead Of API Data
In commodity markets, oil prices edged lower, as oversupply concerns mounted amid indications that OPEC output rose in July to its highest for 2018.
Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, shed 39 cents, or 0.5%, to $75.16 a barrel, while U.S. crude dipped 44 cents, or 0.6%, to $69.69.
Oil traders turned their attention to fresh data on U.S. commercial crude inventories to gauge the strength of demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
The American Petroleum Institute is due to release its weekly report for the week ended July 27 at 4:30PM ET, amid forecasts for an oil-stock drop of around 3.1 million barrels.