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U.S. GDP, Apple Earnings, and Sundance—5 Things to Watch for the Week Ahead

January 24, 2016, 4:00 PM UTC
attends the Day One Press Conference at the Egyptian Theatre during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 2014 in Park City, Utah.
Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford in Park City, Utah, in 2014.
Photograph by George Pimentel — Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

As the U.S. Northeast coast recovers from a major snowstorm, the market is preparing for a flood of major corporate earnings this week, with tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft leading the way. The market will also have its eye on a handful of economic data releases, including a report showing U.S. economic growth in the final quarter of 2015. Also, this week brings the first Fed monetary policy meeting of the year, while a full slate of indie films make their debuts in Utah.

Here’s what you need to know for the week ahead.

1. U.S. GDP

Last week was the best one so far this year for Wall Street (which isn’t saying much), so the market will be looking to continue its rebound in the coming week and positive economic data could help boost investor confidence. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department is expected to report that new home sales increased 2% to a 500,000-unit pace in December, which would represent solid growth for the housing market. However, on Friday, the government is likely to report that U.S. economic growth slowed down in the fourth quarter of 2015, dropping to a 0.8% annualized rate after clocking in at 2% growth in the third quarter. Contributing to the slowdown was a drop-off in consumer spending as well as weak exports.

2. Apple reports Q1 earnings

For the first time in a year and a half, tech giant Apple (AAPL) is expected to post quarterly sales figures that fall below Wall Street’s predictions. After six straight quarters of beating revenue expectations, Apple is likely to report disappointing sales due to weak demand for its latest signature iPhones, which contributed to Apple’s stock dropping nearly 20% over the past six months. On Tuesday, investors will look for any signs of optimism from Apple in terms of shipments in the current quarter and the rest of 2016, while they will also be interested to hear CEO Tim Cook’s thoughts on the economic turmoil in China—one of the company’s biggest markets.

3. More tech earnings: AMZN, FB, MSFT

A wave of major tech earnings will roll in this week, including the latest quarterly update from e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN), which is expected to post fourth-quarter sales that outpace analysts’ estimates. Jeff Bezos’ company saw huge online sales over the holiday season and will likely post a quarterly profit for the third quarter in a row. On Wednesday, Facebook (FB) is expected to just barely beat Wall Street’s earnings predictions after the company posted a solid fourth-quarter profit thanks to increased mobile users and strong advertising revenue. And, Microsoft (MSFT) is also likely to beat analysts’ estimates as CEO Satya Nadella sees success in transitioning the company’s focus to software and cloud services while the company continues to cut costs.

4. Fed meeting

Leaders at the U.S. Federal Reserve will hold their first meeting of the year to set the country’s monetary policy and their first meeting since raising interest rates at the end of 2015—the first rate hike in nearly a decade. At the two-day meeting, which starts on Wednesday, the Fed is not expected to announce any changes to the central bank’s target interest rate of 0.25% to 0.5%.

5. Sundance Film Festival

One of the top showcases for independent filmmakers kicked off this past week and will run through the coming week, with a full slate of indie films debuting for fans, critics, and (especially) studio executives looking for the next big sleeper hit. The annual Park City, Utah, event—founded in 1978 by actor Robert Redford—regularly helps little known movies hit the big time, with a long list of past films that premiered at Sundance before turning into box office blockbusters or catching the eye of the Academy. Two years ago, the Oscar-nominated Whiplash premiered at Sundance before going on to pull in almost $50 million at the domestic box office.


—Reuters contributed to this post.