If you think March has been an active month, investors should prepare for April, which will not only include Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes being released but also corporate earnings reports for the first three months of the year.
The closing of March brings the end to the first quarter and ushers in a month chock full of economic data. JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade's chief market strategist, said that investors should prepare. "Businesses, government agencies and the Federal Reserve (Fed) release an array of economic and financial data, shedding light on the state of the economy and what it might mean for the markets," wrote the the TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (AMTD) executive in a blog post. "With so much information available at once, quarter end can be a good time for investors to review their portfolios and potentially take action, such as rebalancing their accounts, to help keep their investments aligned with their goals."
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According to Kinahan, some of the key data points to be on the lookout for in April include the producer price index and the consumer price index, the FOMC minutes, retail sales, existing home sales, the payroll report and corporate earnings, to name a few. Those data points in and of themselves could have the power move the markets. Consider February's payroll numbers as one example. While the economy added more jobs than expected, wage growth didn't blow past expectations, relieving fears about inflation rising, which sent stocks higher.
At the start of May, the Federal Reserve has a two-day meeting that could result in a hike to the interest rates. "Based on previous minutes and comments from the new Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, many analysts are anticipating three to four interest-rate hikes this year. How fast and when these increases may occur will depend in part on the strength of the economy and whether inflation continues to edge upward toward the Fed's 2% target," wrote Kinahan.
As for corporate earnings, April will bring a lot of releases, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) weighing in with their quarterly results on April 13. Other big names to offer up their financials for the first three months of 2018 include Citigroup Inc. (C) , Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), The Procter & Gamble Company (PG), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Alphabet Inc. (GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Chevron Corporation (CVX), and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM).
"The markets may be more volatile during earnings season depending on whether the reports meet investors' and analysts' expectations," said the TD Ameritrade strategist. "As these companies go, so may the markets. You may want to review your portfolio to ensure you're not overweight in any one particular stock or sector."