The major indexes have started off the week in slightly negative territory, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) and the broader S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) both down about 0.1% at 10:15 a.m. EDT. As investors look forward to the week just underway, these are the events that will matter.
The micro view
This is a heavy week for earnings, with 155 companies in the S&P 500 reporting results, including seven Dow components, which are shown below. By week's end, more than half of the companies in the S&P 500 will have reported earnings.
- Monday: Caterpillar
- Tuesday: 3M, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, United Technologies
- Wednesday: AT&T, Boeing
- Thursday: Procter & Gamble
- Friday: Merck
In fact, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) reported before the market's open this morning. In what now appears to be a familiar refrain in the U.S., the company beat expectations for the third quarter ($2.54 ex-items versus $2.22) but went on to lower guidance for the full year from $9.40 to a range of $9 to $9.25. Curiously, the market is shaking off the news and lifting the shares 2% as of 10:15 a.m. EDT. What does the market know? Is Caterpillar a buy at these levels? Click here to order The Motley Fool's premium report and receive a full assessment of the opportunities and potential risks facing Caterpillar, along with a year of free updates.
The macro view
On the central-bankers' front, the highlight of the week for U.S. stock market investors should be the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets short-term interest rates, beginning on Tuesday. As the Financial Times' U.S. economics editor, Robin Harding, writes: "The FOMC meeting is likely to involve preparation for big decisions rather than the decisions themselves. One topic on the agenda will be a "broad discussion" of making a consensus FOMC forecast although agreement on how to do that remains some way off."