GDP, Primaries, and the Oscars—5 Things to Watch For in the Week Ahead

February 22, 2016, 12:34 AM UTC
Oscar statues are seen at the 2013 Governors Awards, presented by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, California, November 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Robyn Beck — AFP via Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Corporate earnings season is winding down, but a handful of major retailers will report their latest results this week. Meanwhile, investors will keep an eye on important data on recent economic growth while several Fed officials will speak his week on the country’s economic outlook and monetary policy. Also on tap: Democrats in South Carolina and Republicans in Nevada head to the polls, and Hollywood hands out golden statues after a year of movies (and controversy).

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

1. U.S. GDP

On Friday, the Commerce Department is expected to report that the U.S. economy grew at a slower pace in the final quarter of 2015 than the government had previously estimated. The second estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product will likely show that the economy expanded at a 0.4% annual rate, as opposed to the 0.7% rate the government reported last month. Meanwhile, other economic data set to be released this week includes figures on consumer spending, which is expected to have increased by 0.3% in January, while existing home sales likely fell by 2.9% last month after spiking in December.

Here’s what you need to know about the Fed’s interest rate:

2. Dems vote in S.C., GOP in Nevada

A week after the GOP held its South Carolina primary, Democratic voters in the state get a chance to cast their primary ballots as Hillary Clinton faces off against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Saturday. Clinton won last weekend’s Nevada caucuses and polls have her ahead in S.C., as well. Meanwhile, Donald Trump will face his rivals in Nevada’s Republican caucuses this Tuesday after his own S.C. victory over the weekend.

3. Earnings: HP, Target, Home Depot

The spun-off company that now houses Hewlett-Packard’s printer and PC business is expected to report first-quarter sales and profit that fall short of Wall Street’s forecasts. HP Inc. (HPQ), which reports quarterly results on Wednesday, has struggled with the strong U.S. dollar as well as the uncertainty around the future of the PC market. On Tuesday, Home Depot (HD) will likely post fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ expectations after the home improvement retailer saw a boost from an improved housing market. Also on Wednesday, retailer Target (TGT) is expected to report fourth-quarter sales below analysts’ forecasts after the company said in November that poor electronics sales would keep it from meeting full-year online sales growth targets.

Other companies reporting quarterly results this week include Macy’s (M), Lowe’s Companies (LOW), and Dollar Tree (DLTR).

4. Federal Reserve speakers

Investors will watch closely this week for comments on the U.S. economic outlook from a number of Federal Reserve officials speaking at a variety of events around the country. Among the speakers will be Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard, commenting on the economy and monetary policy at New York University, along with Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan, who will deliver an address on monetary policy before the Harvard Clubs of Dallas and Fort Worth. Fed vice chair Stanley Fischer will also speak at the CERA energy conference in Houston. The remarks come ahead of Friday’s GDP report, as the Federal Reserve weighs whether or not is will move ahead with its plan to raise interest rates incrementally throughout 2016 amid global market volatility.

Hollywood still has a major diversity problem.

5. The 88th Academy Awards

Next Sunday is one of Hollywood’s glitziest nights, as stars gather in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards. Airing on Walt Disney’s (DIS) ABC, the award show could result in a big night for 20th Century Fox (FOX), which scored more total nominations than any other major studio. The event has also seen quite a bit of controversy since nominations came out earlier this year, revealing zero non-white acting nominees and causing the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” to trend online. Some prominent stars are boycotting the Oscars this year and the controversy even spurred the Academy to announce a series of changes to its membership and governance structures in order to improve diversity.

—Reuters contributed to this post.

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