(The Day Ahead is an email and PDF publication that includes the day’s major stories and events, analyses and other features. To receive The Day Ahead, Eikon users can register at . Thomson One users can register at RT/DAY/US. All times in ET/GMT) The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to begin a two-day meeting on interest rate policy, with all signs pointing to another $10 billion cut to the simulative asset purchases and no change to a longer-term plan for low interest rates. With economic data having bounced back from a tough winter and markets relatively quiet, policymakers could take the two-day meeting to quietly debate the level of slack in the labor market, lurking inflation pressures, and exactly what economic conditions would finally prompt the Fed to raise rates.
The Senate Banking Committee is set to vote on President Barack Obama’s nominees for the depleted Fed board: Stanley Fischer for vice chair; Lael Brainard for one of the vacant governor spots; and sitting Governor Jerome Powell, who needs to be reconfirmed.
Dow component Merck’s first-quarter earnings are expected to fall sharply due to generic competition for its Singulair asthma medicine. Investors will be paying close attention for hints from second largest U.S. drugmaker that it might be willing to divest its animal health or consumer healthcare businesses.
Ebay is expected to report first-quarter earnings of 67 cents per share after the bell. The quarterly report comes as activist-investor Carl Icahn’s campaign to spin out PayPal fades. Ebay’s largest shareholder and founder supports the company’s current strategy, and analysts expect he will convince shareholders to keep PayPal under eBay. Investors will also look for a clearer readout on eBay’s mobile and international efforts.
The S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index of 20 metropolitan areas is expected to have slipped 0.7 percent in February from the prior month. The index likely went up 13.0 percent from a year ago. (0900/1300) Separately, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index is expected to show consumers feeling more upbeat about the economy and their finances in April. (1000/1400)
Cancer and arthritis drugs are expected to lift Bristol-Myers Squibb’s first-quarter earnings, but an experimental newer wave of cancer drugs that work by boosting the immune system will get star billing as the company discusses corporate strategy with investors.
After a rapturous IPO and several heady months, the investor sentiment in recent months around Twitter has been subdued with shares down 40 percent, and the mood could quickly sour when it reports first-quarter results. The key figure to watch is Twitter’s user growth, which all but ground to a standstill during the fourth quarter. Much of Twitter’s $25 billion valuation has been predicated on the assumption that it could grow into a global communications utility, but data continues to suggest it has a future as only a niche social network. Aside from an update on user numbers, investors will want to hear CEO Dick Costolo talk in greater detail about the design tweaks he has planned to make Twitter more appealing to a mass audience.
Independent refining company Valero is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings before the bell. The company is expected to benefit from higher margins, thanks to easy access to low- cost U.S. shale crude. While refining margins are expected to have improved quarter-over-quarter, Valero could be hurt by higher prices for Renewable Identification Numbers. The company’s cash operating costs will also likely rise due to higher natural gas prices.
Express Scripts is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $1.01 per share. In the last quarter the company’s profit matched analysts’ average estimate and it forecast 2014 earnings in line with Wall Street expectations.
Sprint is scheduled to report first-quarter results. In the fourth-quarter the company reported a smaller loss and subscriber growth that was helped by tablet sales.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and Deputy Senior Governor Tiff Macklem are scheduled to answer lawmakers’ questions about the central bank’s quarterly forecasts released on April 16. Markets are highly sensitive to any suggestion of a change in bias on interest rates and although the next move is expected to be a long way off, investors will be keen to see if they sound more likely to cut or raise rates.
Archer Daniels Midland is expected to report that backlogged railways and rejections of genetically modified U.S. crops by China hurt first-quarter results. Shipments of U.S. grain via rail have been slow due to harsh weather and competition for rail space from oil. The issues are key to ADM as it refocuses on grain trading. The company is pursuing a sale of its chocolate business and recently sold its South American fertilizer operations.
Latin America’s biggest phone company America Movil’s first-quarter results could give early indications of how tough new rules designed to increase competition in Mexico are dampening the company’s revenue. The company is facing tougher regulation in Colombia and Brazil and its efforts to expand outside out Latin America with investments in Europe have met with mixed results. Investors will be watching for an update on regulation in Latin America as well as the opportunities outside of the region.
Suncor, Canada’s largest integrated oil and gas producer, is expected to report first-quarter earnings. Investors will be looking for reaction to latest Canadian export pipeline hurdles and updates on its crude-by-rail operations, and on when it is likely to begin construction on the Fort Hills oil sands mine.
Marriott is scheduled to post first-quarter results after the bell. Increased business and leisure travel in the United States is expected to have boosted occupancy and room rates at U.S. hotels. Rival Starwood reported strong quarterly results last week. Marriott has a bigger exposure to the United States than Starwood, which is more Asia focused.
Standard & Poor’s owner McGraw Hill Financial’s first-quarter results are expected to have taken a hit due to weak U.S. bond issuance in the first two months of the year. McGraw Hill and S&P, involved in a $5-billion civil lawsuit with the U.S. government over its credit ratings, saw its request to split up the case being rejected earlier this month. McGraw Hill reaffirmed its 2014 outlook last month and said it was exploring strategic alternatives for McGraw Hill Construction, which could reduce cost by about $100 million in the next three years.
Cummins, the Columbus, Ohio-based maker of diesel engines and other vehicle components, is likely to have benefited from the nascent rebound in demand for commercial trucks in key markets, including North America and Europe. The company reports first-quarter results before the bell.
Coach, the New York company known for its Poppy handbags, is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings, with Wall Street looking for the latest on the company’s turnaround efforts as it tries to fend off Michael Kors and kate spade. Investors will also be looking to see whether the company has kept up its momentum in China, the centerpiece of its overseas expansion plans.
Chemicals maker Huntsman is expected to report a higher first-quarter profit, helped by improved margins and demand for chemicals used in making polyurethane - a thermal insulator in freezers and refrigerators. Analysts expect polyurethane prices to outpace feedstock costs, boosting Huntsman’s margins. Huntsman is betting on a turnaround in demand for titanium dioxide, a pigment used to whiten everything from toothpaste to cars and bought Rockwood Holdings’ pigments business for $1.1 billion last year, giving it second position in that market.
Coal miner Consol Energy’s first-quarter results are likely to be hurt by depressed coal prices, but aggressive cost cutting may help the company beat estimates. Consol, like other miners, has started cutting its production for relatively low-margin steel-making coal to bring a balance in the over-supplied market. It has also gradually diverted from its coal mining business to build a large natural gas operation.
Rising global auto production should help Goodyear post strong first-quarter results, but tough price competition from rivals Bridgestone and Michelin could hit sales.
Small business lender CIT Group is expected to report its sixth straight quarterly profit, benefiting from lower interest payments on its long-term debt. CIT has been refinancing its long-term debt, helping the company reduce its interest burden and improve earnings.
Railcar manufacturer Trinity Industries is expected to release first-quarter earnings and is likely to discuss crude-by-rail safety with regulators and the industry in terms of possible redesigns and retrofits of railcars.
Genworth Financial, spun off from industrial conglomerate GE, is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings. The life and mortgage insurer is expected to continue with its profit-making streak as fewer homeowners default on loans. The company has been writing more profitable business at a quicker pace, helping it to offset losses from its legacy portfolio.
Auto parts supplier TRW Automotive is expected to report strong first-quarter results, helped by increasing U.S. auto sales. The company, which makes braking systems, seat belts and airbags, said in February that it expected vehicle production volume to increase 4 percent in North America and 1 percent in Europe and also forecast strong growth in China.
Industrial automation tools maker Rockwell Auto is likely to post second-quarter results before the bell. It finally reported a pick-up in Asia Pacific sales last quarter, after five quarters of declines and also said spending in Europe had begun to pick up. Even though China was strong in the previous quarter, Rockwell CEO Keith Nosbusch has said it was too soon to say if the strength would continue through the rest of the year. Investors will be looking for more updates on Asia Pacific.
Medical device maker Boston Scientific is expected to report first-quarter results before the bell. The company, which struggled last year with lower sales of its heart stents due to lost market share and fewer procedures, is expected to gain back some of its share, helped by the launch of a recently-approved stent. Investors will be looking for comments on the improving market for heart rhythm devices, as rival St Jude Medical reported an increase in sales two weeks ago.
3D Systems is expected to report first-quarter results. The largest listed 3D printer maker said in February that its strong order book did not convert to revenue in the fourth quarter and forecast 2014 adjusted profit largely below analysts’ average estimate.
Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corp is scheduled to release first-quarter results before markets open. Analysts expect a larger profit from a year earlier, when uranium sales fell sharply. Investors will be looking for an update on ramping up production at the company’s huge new Cigar Lake mine and prospects for Japan to restart reactors.
Chipmaker RF Micro Devices is expected to benefit from strong sales of iPhones in the fourth-quarter. It offered to buy peer Triquint Semiconductor for about $1.6 billion in February and the deal is expected to boost RF Micro’s offerings for the networking infrastructure and aerospace defense markets.
Canadian gold producer Yamana Gold is expected to report lower first-quarter earnings due to weaker prices. Investors will likely focus on Yamana’s recent acquisition of Osisko Mining, in partnership with another Canadian gold miner Agnico-Eagle Mines, and how the partners plan to jointly run the mine.
DreamWorks Animation SKG is expected to post first-quarter results. Analysts have forecast that the Hollywood Studio could take an impairment charge due to a poor showing of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” With three of its last four moving having failed to find favor with audiences, analysts are hoping that the release of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” in mid-June will help the company win back investor confidence. (Compiled By Shashwat Sharma)