Fed Meets and Facebook Reports–5 Things to Know Today
Hello friends and Fortune readers.
Wall Street stock futures are lower this morning as yesterday’s rally fades as the market digests the possibility of Apple going ex-growth. China’s had another bad day in the wake of its top statistician being placed under investigation amid suspicions that he’s been putting out inflated data. The dollar is mixed against the euro and yen, and crude oil futures haven’t recovered from yesterday’s surge in U.S. oil stocks.
Today’s must-read story is by Fortune’s Chris Matthews on why the economy may be worse off than you think despite yesterday’s market rally. The Federal Reserve will have a lot to consider as it heads into its first meeting of the year.
Here’s what else you need to know.
1. Federal Reserve meets.
The Federal Open Market Committee convenes for its first two-day meeting of 2016 amid a tough economic environment. World markets have struggled since the start of the year, the price of oil has taken another nose dive, the Chinese economy continues to falter, and fears are rising that the slowdown could spread. No matter, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen and fellow officials have been trying to reassure investors that it is sticking with its plan to slowly but surely raise interest rates. Officials aren’t likely to announce any change in its benchmark interest rate target.
2. RBS – horrors without end
The misery never ends at Royal Bank of Scotland, which announced another full-year loss after taking fresh charges of nearly $3.6 billion to cover a host of issues including a settlement with U.S. regulators over its mis-selling of mortgage-backed securities. The provision only covers civil claims in the U.S., and doesn’t include potential liabilities from a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
3. Facebook reports.
Facebook (FB) reports its fourth-quarter earnings today after the market close. Analysts expect the social media giant to post earnings per share of 68 cents on $5.37 billion in revenue, according to FactSet data. Those numbers would represent a year-over-year increase of 25.9% and 39.5%, respectively. Facebook watchers will be paying close attention to the company’s Instagram business, which is shaping up to be an impressive money maker. Facebook hasn’t shared any revenue numbers from the service since it started its advertising program in September, but analysts estimate that it could be a multi-billion business unit.
4. Royal Dutch Shell investors vote on BG acquisition.
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) shareholders will cast their votes today in The Hague to potentially approve the company’s $70 billion takeover of smaller rival BG Group, the oil industry’s first super-merger in more than a decade. It’s been nine months since Shell announced the purchase. Since then, oil prices have plunged below $30 a barrel and the International Energy Agency warned that it could fall even further. That’s squeezed oil companies bottom lines. Though, investors look likely to approve the merger.
5. U.S. housing update.
Sales of new homes likely increased in December for the third straight month, according to analyst estimates ahead of the Commerce Department’s report. Low interest rates and strong job creation have helped boost sales, which are expected to be up 2.4% for the last month of 2015. Numbers will be released at 10 a.m. ET.