I'm unofficially dubbing this week Deutsche Bank (DB -2.50%) week, because that's the company most recently driving market volatility. Unless you've been consumed by a Netflix binge, you've likely heard about the concern floating around Germany's largest bank. Deutsche Bank has spent billions settling charges that it rigged and influenced foreign exchange rates, and investors were extremely concerned by rumors of a potential $14 billion fine from the U.S. Department of Justice for the bank's role in the global financial crisis.
While that weighed on stocks early in the week, it was reported Friday that Deutsche Bank would settle with the Department of Justice for a fraction of that initial estimate, closer to $5.4 billion. As of this writing nothing had been confirmed, but investors were encouraged enough to drive Deutsche Bank shares 15% higher Friday.
With all of that bank doom and gloom aside, here are some other companies making big headlines or big moves this week.
To drill, or not to drill
In a newsworthy event that would normally have taken top-headline honors for the week, OPEC reached an agreement to scale back output. For that reason, many of the S&P 500's best-performing stocks this week were found in the energy sector.
One of those companies was Devon Energy (DVN -2.66%), which has thoroughly impressed investors by pumping profits in such a challenging market environment. Devon surprised many when it posted earnings of $0.06 per share during the second quarter of 2016, when the average price of crude oil was hovering around $45.
The key to the whole thing might actually have been a non-OPEC member, Russia, which also said it would cap its production volumes to help stabilize market prices. While this is a promising scenario, it's not a guarantee. We'll have to wait for it all to unfold over the next couple of months before the deal is ratified, and details are released about how the cutbacks in output will be distributed among the parties and more specifically what this will mean for U.S. oil companies.
When it rains, it pours
2016 hasn't been a year to remember for investors of Fitbit (FIT), with its stock shedding nearly half of its value throughout the year. That trend continued Thursday, when shares declined roughly 10% after the stock was downgraded to "underperform" by an analyst at Pacific Crest.
The analyst, Brad Erickson, pointed out that Fitbit's newest Charge 2 wristband is off to a slower-than-anticipated sales start, and also noted that elevated inventories contributed to his lower estimates for the company's fourth-quarter results.
Fitbit is likely feeling the pressure from a recent announcement by health insurance company Aetna that it will subsidize Apple Watches for employers and customers during enrollment season.
While much of the negativity surrounding Fitbit seems priced in, the holiday season could be a make-or-break time for the company and its investors. In addition to keeping an eye on holiday sales, investors will want to see successful products born from its increased research and development spending, sooner rather than later.
One thing to watch next week
With this week in the books, many eyes on Wall Street will focus on the automotive industry -- especially on the two largest sellers in the U.S., General Motors (GM -2.67%) and Ford Motor Company (F -2.49%) -- as the industry releases its September sales results on Monday, Oct. 3. At a time when many analysts believe U.S. new-vehicle sales to be plateauing (albeit near record highs), there has been an increased focus on monthly sales gains or losses. Whether or not the industry beats expectations could influence market optimism early next week.
"Auto sales are tracking just about even with last year's record-breaking pace, so there's good reason to believe that they've hit a high plateau," Jeremy Acevedo, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com, said in a statement quoted by Automotive News. "At the very least, automakers can feel good that sales are consistently hovering at or around last year's record levels."
More specifically, Edmunds, TrueCar, and Kelley Blue Book estimate that September sales will decline roughly 2%, compared to the prior year. That would peg the seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate, or SAAR, at between 17.4 million and 17.7 million units. This would be an increase over last month's rate of just under 17 million, but far below last September's scorching 18.04 million.
Aside from the sales figures themselves, another thing analysts will be eyeballing is whether incentives per vehicle increase, and by how much. TrueCar data shows incentives rising nearly 8% compared to a year ago, and roughly 0.5% compared to August. What investors don't want to see is a plateau in new-vehicle sales and an incentive war beginning between major automakers that will quickly erode industry profitability.
We're not likely to see that next week, but here's hoping we start the week off with a surprise result from the automotive industry.