Hello friends and Fortune readers.
With September fast approaching, every piece of official economic data receives that much more attention as the Federal Reserve looks for evidence of a sustained economic recovery before scheduling a highly-anticipated interest rate hike. This week brings new data on U.S. consumer activity and job openings. The markets will also be watching as another round of corporate earnings pour in from companies such as Macy’s, Cisco Systems, and China’s Alibaba Group. Also in the news this week are the ongoing Greek bailout negotiations as well as a potential settlement between the NFL and Super Bowl hero Tom Brady.
Here’s what you need to know to start your week.
1. U.S. retail sales
After a week of solid, but not spectacular employment data, investors will be watching this week for signs that the economy is growing strong enough to push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in September. With that in mind, Thursday’s release of July retail sales data by the Commerce Department could merit a market reaction, particularly if U.S. sales rebounded last month from a weak showing in June. Economists are expecting a 0.5% bump thanks to increased motor vehicle sales. The Fed may also be influenced by Wednesday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), as the central bank continues to weigh the timing of its highly-anticipated rate hike.
2. Retailers report earnings
Macy’s (M) reports its second-quarter financial figures on Wednesday. The iconic retailer is expected to post disappointing profits. The company lowered its forecast after needing to lower prices on certain merchandise that was delayed in arriving at stores due to the West Coast port strikes. Results were also hurt by lower sales to foreign tourists, who likely spent less because of the strong U.S. dollar. Investors will also be interested in any news regarding activist investor Starboard Value, which took a stake in Macy’s last month and advocated for a spin-off of the company’s real estate portfolio. Meanwhile, department store operators Kohl’s (KSS) and Nordstrom’s (JWN) will also put out their respective second-quarter results on Thursday. Luxury chain Nordstrom’s has been investing heavily in e-commerce in an attempt to better compete with online retailers like Amazon.
3. Cisco, Alibaba lead tech earnings
Cisco Systems (CSCO) posts numbers from its fourth fiscal quarter on Wednesday. The network equipment maker is expected to beat Wall Street’s profit forecasts. The company is shifting toward higher-end routers and network switches while also adding cloud-management services and investing in cyber security. Meanwhile, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (BABA) reports earnings for the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year on Wednesday. Alibaba is expected to post a nearly 19% profit increase from the same period last year and investors will also be interested to hear about the company’s ongoing efforts to improve its policies following recent allegations that counterfeiters use its website to sell fake goods. Other tech companies reporting earnings this week include chip-equipment maker Applied Materials (AMAT) and security software maker Symantec (SYMC).
4. Greek bailout talks
Greek officials continue negotiations with their European creditors this week as the two sides look to reach an agreement on a deal for the troubled country’s third bailout. Greece faces an August 20th deadline for its first major bond payment to the European Central Bank. European Union finance officials are reportedly confident that a deal for Greece’s roughly $94 billion loan can be reached early this week, which would give the country time to implement another package of austerity measures ahead of next week’s payment deadline.
5. NFL settlement conference with Tom Brady
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will appear before a federal judge on Wednesday. The court-ordered settlement hearing stems from Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in the Patriots using under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship game in January. The NFL Players Association last month filed a lawsuit on behalf of Brady to fight his suspension. The league and the player’s association have filed a joint request for the courts to resolve their dispute before September 4, which is less than a week before the Patriots first regular season game. The NFL preseason kicks off with a slate of games this week, including a Thursday match-up between the Patriots and the Green Bay Packers. Based on Brady’s 2015 salary, a four-game suspension would cost him roughly $1.9 million, while the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks for the team’s role in “DeflateGate.”
— Reuters contributed to this post.