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World Week Ahead: Yellen testifies to Congress

World Week Ahead: Yellen testifies to Congress

By Margreet Dietz

July 14 (BusinessDesk) - US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to Congress will offer a key focus in the coming days, while investors will also try to gauge whether earnings support the improved outlook for the world’s biggest economy.

On Tuesday, Yellen is scheduled to deliver her semi-annual policy testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, and the next day to the House Financial Services Committee.

Last week minutes of the June Fed meeting showed that policy makers are planning to end their monthly bond-buying program after the October gathering.

Speculation continues to rise over the timing of the first increase in interest rates, despite assurances from Yellen that the central bank isn’t in any rush to do so.

Other Fed speakers this week include Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher who will discuss monetary policy, in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and St Louis Fed boss James Bullard who will talk about the economy and monetary policy, in Owensboro, Kentucky, on Thursday.

The latest quarterly US earnings will also provide direction with a slew of banks and tech companies on deck this week: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Google, Intel, General Electric, Yahoo and eBay.

While Wall Street advanced on Friday, those gains did not make up for declines earlier in the week. For the past five sessions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.7 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 0.9 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 1.6 percent.

On Friday, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, also referred to as the investors’ fear gauge, dropped 4.1 percent to 12.08.

The coming days will offer fresh clues on the US real estate market in the form of the housing market index on Wednesday, and housing starts on Thursday.

Other US economic data due for release include retail sales, Empire State manufacturing survey, import and export prices, and business inventories, all due Tuesday; industrial production, Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations, due Wednesday; weekly jobless claims, and Philadelphia Fed survey, due Thursday; and consumer sentiment, and leading indicators, due Friday.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index slumped 3.2 percent last week, while the UK’s FTSE 100 fell 2.6 percent as concern about one of Portugal’s biggest banks fuelled doubt about the euro-zone’s recovery.

“This Portugal news, while in and of itself isn’t going to bring down the European economy, is a reminder that things aren’t fixed yet,” Jordan Irving, co-founder of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Irving Magee Investment Management, told Bloomberg News. “Things may be more tenuous than investors believe, and some bets are off the table.”

Oil declined last week as concern eased that the conflict in Iraq would constrain supply.

“Prices rose on speculation the flow of Iraqi crude would drop with the rise in violence and that guess turned out to be wrong,” Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group in Villanova, Pennsylvania, told Bloomberg News.

Still, the International Energy Agency warned that the risks to supply were still high in several regions and that there was “little room for complacency” in both crude and product markets.

"Supply risks in the Middle East and North Africa, not least in Iraq and Libya, remain extraordinarily high," the IEA said in its monthly report, according to Reuters. "Oil prices remain historically high and there is no sign of a turning of the tide just yet."


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