The Week Ahead
Posted February 4, 2018 9:21 p.m. EST
Draghi to Face Questions on Stimulus Program
The official reason that Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, is appearing Monday before the European Parliament is to present the bank’s annual report for 2017. But members of the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg, France, are certain to ask Draghi the burning question of the moment: When will the central bank end the stimulus program known as quantitative easing? If experience is any guide, Draghi will stick to the script he used during a news conference in January. He will emphasize that, even though the eurozone is booming, the central bank will not stop pumping money into the economy until there are more convincing signs that inflation is picking up.
— JACK EWING
Trade Deficit Likely to be Highest in Years
The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday will release data for all of 2017 for international trade in goods and services. The data will probably show the trade deficit reaching the highest level in years. President Donald Trump has maligned the trade deficit in goods as a sign of manufacturing job loss and pledged to reduce it. But data to be released Tuesday is likely to show that the figure soared last year, as the strong U.S. economy lifted demand for imports. In November, the trade deficit reached a nearly six-year high.
— ANA SWANSON
For First Time Since Fox Deal, Disney to Lay Out Plans
When the Walt Disney Co. reports its earnings Tuesday afternoon for the quarter that ended in December, Wall Street expects to see per-share profit of roughly $1.61 and revenue of $15.5 billion, each up about 4 percent from the same quarter in 2016. More interesting, however, will be discussion on Disney’s post-earnings conference call with analysts, when Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, will discuss the Magic Kingdom’s state of affairs and plans for its future for the first time since striking a $52.4 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox. Iger will probably not offer many details about the merger, which government regulators still must approve. But he may discuss the multiple streaming services that Disney is building — and hopes to supersize with Fox assets. Iger could also mount a defense of the “Star Wars” franchise (the last film flopped in China and took in $612 million in North America, less than some people would have liked) while facing questions about the future leadership of ESPN, where the hunt for a new president is underway.
— BROOKS BARNES
GM and Tesla Report Earnings
General Motors reports fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday and is expected to post earnings of nearly $6.50 a share for 2017. But investors will listen more closely for what GM has to say about this year and 2019, as sales in the United States decline. GM has said it expects flat earnings in 2018 and then growth in 2019. This year, GM plans to introduce new generations of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, two of the most profitable vehicles it makes.
On Wednesday, Tesla will provide its results for the final quarter of 2017, and a substantial loss is likely. Analysts expect the electric-car maker to post a loss of about $3 a share, compared with an adjusted loss of 69 cents a share a year ago. Tesla has lost money four quarters in a row and in seven of the last eight. More troublesome may be an expected update on production of the Model 3 compact. As recently as July, the company hoped to be able to make 20,000 a month by the end of 2017, but in January, it said it delivered just 1,550 in the fourth quarter.
— NEAL E. BOUDETTE
Europe’s Biggest Lenders to Report Results
Several of Europe’s largest lenders are scheduled this week to report their results for the fourth quarter, including the French banks BNP Paribas and Société Générale and Italy’s largest lender, UniCredit.
Several European lenders have said they have taken large charges related to changes in U.S. tax laws, with the Swiss bank UBS, for example, falling to a loss in the quarter as a result of a write-down of 2.87 billion francs (about $3.08 billion), on deferred tax assets.
— CHAD BRAY
Congress Faces Another Funding Deadline
The federal government is facing another shutdown this week, with funding set to expire Thursday. Lawmakers will again be under pressure to reach a budget agreement to extend funding. With hopes for a broad budget agreement dim, Congress is expected to pass yet another short-term stopgap measure despite resistance from Republican deficit hawks and Democrats who want to cut a deal on immigration legislation.
— ALAN RAPPEPORT
Interest Rates Expected to Remain Steady in England
The Bank of England will release its latest monetary policy decision and unveil its updated forecast for inflation Thursday, to be followed by a news conference by Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England. The Monetary Policy Committee is widely expected to keep interest rates steady after raising its key rate for the first time in a decade to 0.5 percent in November.
The central bank has said that rates are expected to rise at a “gradual pace” and that it would probably increase interest rates only twice over its three-year forecast period.
— CHAD BRAY