The Markets

After Alcoa's strong report unofficially kicked off the Q2 earnings season, domestic equities rebounded from two down days. However, investors decided to take advantage of equities' recent record levels and take some profits after revelations about a banking problem in Portugal revived concerns about Europe's financial sector. Meanwhile, the spot price of oil, which had spiked to $107 two weeks ago, ended the week just over $100 a barrel.

Last Week's Headlines

  • The Federal Reserve currently expects its bond purchases to end in October, according to minutes of the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting. However, the minutes also reiterated that the end of bond-buying won't automatically mean higher interest rates, at least not for a "considerable time." The Fed also will continue to reinvest the proceeds of maturing bonds it already holds until after it acts on rates.
  • Talks aimed at trying to address U.S.-China differences over Chinese currency policies began. The United States contends that those policies have kept the yuan artificially low, giving Chinese companies an unfair pricing advantage. Meanwhile, Chinese exports were up 7.2% in June from a year earlier, according to China's General Administration of Customs.
  • A major Portuguese lender's failure to make payments on some of its short-term debt raised concerns once again about the stability of European banks and the possibility of contagion. Banco Espirito Santo has been known to be struggling since December, but investor reaction to the disclosure caused several other European companies to postpone bond offerings.

Eye on the Week Ahead

Q2 earnings reports from some major financial and tech companies, due next week, could influence investor thinking about whether Q1's discouraging GDP really has given way to renewed growth. Housing and inflation data also are likely to be closely watched.

Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/ Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.