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Markets brace for Nvidia earnings: What to know this week

Stocks have once again ended a trading week having hit new records.

Signs of an inflation cooldown prompted markets to grow more optimistic about the prospect of Federal Reserve interest rate cuts and stocks rallied as a result, with all three major averages hitting record highs on Wednesday.

For the week, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) rose more than 2% while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) popped more than 1.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) gained more than 1%, closing above 40,000 for the first time ever on Friday.

In the week ahead, highly anticipated earnings results from Nvidia (NVDA) are expected to be the key catalyst for markets. Results from Target (TGT), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), and Lowe's (LOW) will also be closely tracked by investors.

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The week is expected to be quieter on the economic front, with updates on activity in the manufacturing and services sectors as well as the final reading of consumer sentiment for May on tap. Minutes from the Fed's May meeting are also expected on Wednesday afternoon.

April's reading of the Consumer Price Index showed core prices, which strip out the more volatile costs of food and gas, rose 3.6% over last year — the lowest annual rise in three years. This prompted investors to price in two full interest rate cuts this year for the first time since early April.

The move brings the market closer in line with the Fed's projections of two or three interest rate cuts at some point this year. BMO Capital Markets chief investment strategist Brian Belski listed investors' alignment with the Fed on interest rate cuts as a reason supporting his call for the S&P 500 to end 2024 at 5,600, an increase of less than 7% from Friday's close.

For investors, the key question will be whether this bullish narrative is sustainable or if the market will once again jump ahead of the Fed as it did in early 2024 when investors priced in nearly seven interest rate cuts on the back of positive economic data. The first test will come on Wednesday with the release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's May meeting, which will provide a deeper look at the discussion among officials.

"The minutes from the May FOMC meeting should sound more hawkish on the margin than Chair Powell's press conference," Bank of America US economist Michael Gapen wrote in a note to clients. "Though Powell signaled the bar for hikes is high and that standing pat is the proper response to disinflation stalling out, others on the committee were more concerned about whether policy was doing enough."

US Federal Reserve Chair Chair Jerome Powell holds a press conference at the end of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2024. The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady for a sixth straight meeting on May 1, keeping the level at a 23-year high to fight stubborn price increases. At the end of a two-day meeting, the Fed kept the benchmark lending rate unchanged at 5.25-5.50 percent, citing a
Fed Chair Jerome Powell holds a press conference at the end of Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 2024. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) (SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)

Belski's year-end target bump was followed by another forecast raise on Friday. Deutsche Bank chief equity strategist Binky Chadha boosted his year-end target for the benchmark to 5,500 from 5,100. Chadha cited robust earnings growth and an improving macroeconomic outlook as reasons stocks could keep moving higher.

"We see the earnings cycle having plenty of legs," Chadha said. "While all the growth may not materialize this year, we see market confidence in a continued recovery rising by year end, supporting equity multiples."

AI leader Nvidia is set to report earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday, capping off the reports from America's tech giants. Expectations are once again sky-high for the chipmaker. Analysts expect Nvidia grew earnings by more than 400% in the prior quarter while revenue increased 242%, per Bloomberg consensus data.

For the second quarter, analysts project earnings growth of more than 120% and nearly 100% revenue growth.

"We see enough room for NVDA to post FQ1E (April) revenue potentially as high as $26B (data center ~$22-23B) and potentially guide to ~$27-28B in total revenue (data center ~$25-26B) — both good enough to keep the stock biased higher, in our view," UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri wrote in a note to clients previewing the earnings release.

The logo of technology company Nvidia is seen at its headquarters in Santa Clara, California February 11, 2015. Nvidia Corp on Wednesday posted higher quarterly results that beat Wall Street expectations, sending its shares higher as the graphics chipmaker sought to sharpen its focus on high-end automobiles. Nvidia is trying to expand its graphics technology beyond the sluggish personal computer industry with its Tegra line of chips for mobile devices and increasingly for cars. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS LOGO)
The logo of technology company Nvidia is seen at its headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 11, 2015. (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith) (REUTERS / Reuters)

The stock is up more than 86% in 2024 and more than 200% over the past year since Nvidia kicked off the AI hype train with its blowout earnings report in May 2023. Given how Nvidia's stock has impacted other potential AI plays, and the broader market as a whole, all eyes will be on whether the company can once again live up to the hype.

"If [Nvidia] can continue their enviable, remarkable string of beating estimates, raising guidance, then beating the raised guidance next quarter, that means that the AI trade can and will proceed apace," Interactive Brokers chief strategist Steve Sosnick wrote in a research note on Thursday. "If there is even the slightest sign of weakness, however, much more than that stock alone will suffer."

Nvida's updates on its emerging technology demand come at a crucial time for the overall AI story. Increasingly, new companies in sectors are being tabbed AI trades.

Just this past week, Dell shares rose about 10% as analysts from Morgan Stanley and Evercore ISI revealed bullish research on the company's AI prospects.

The AI trade has already been expanding beyond the popular names like Nvidia, Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG), and Meta (META). Energy and Utilities are two of the best performing sectors in the S&P 500 this year, both adding more than 13%. While strategists have pointed to a catch-up trade in Utilities (XLU), AI has also been a driver of enthusiasm. The same could be said for Energy (XLE).

Research from Goldman Sachs' equity strategy team led by David Kostin shows mentions of AI soared in the first quarter amid a "broadening of the AI trade." More than 66% of companies in the energy sector mentioned AI during their earnings calls this quarter, up from 19.1% last quarter.

JPMorgan Asset Management global market strategist Jack Manley said whether the AI story has legs "might be one of the more important questions that we have to ask."

"Is this AI stuff the real deal or is it a flash in the plan?" Manley told Yahoo Finance. "And I mean, frankly, the jury is still out on whether or not it will fundamentally transform the world."

He added, "If markets wake up to say 'Hey, maybe we got a little bit too excited about this and maybe we pulled forward some of these earnings just a little bit, and that's reflected in those valuations.' That's where I think you have the potential for a bit of a shaky road."

 

Earnings: Palo Alto Networks (PANW), Trip.com (TRIP), Zoom (ZM)

Economic news: No notable economic news.

Tuesday

Earnings: AutoZone (AZO), Macy's (M), XPeng (XPEV), Toll Brothers (TOL), Urban Outfitters (URBN)

Economic news: Philadelphia Fed Non-Manufacturing Activity, May (-12.4 previously)

Wednesday

Earnings: Nvidia (NVDA), e.l.f. Beauty (ELF), Petco (WOOF), Snowflake (SNOW), Target (TGT), TJX (TJX), Williams-Sonoma (WSM),

Economic news: MBA mortgage applications, May 17 (+0.5% previously); Existing home sales month-over-month, April (0% expected, -4.3% previously); FOMC meeting minutes

Thursday

Earnings: BJ's (BJ), Deckers Brands (DECK), Intuit (INTU), Polestar (PSNY), Ralph Lauren (RL), Ross Stores (ROST), TD Bank (TD), Workday (WDAY)

Economic news: Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, April (0.15 previously); Initial jobless claims, week ending May 18 (222,000 previously); S&P Global US manufacturing PMI, May preliminary (50 previously); S&P Global US services PMI, May preliminary (51.3 previously); S&P Global US composite PMI, May preliminary (51.3 previously); Existing home sales month-over-month, January (5.0% expected, -1% previously)

Earnings: No notable earnings.

Economic news: Durable goods orders, April preliminary (0% expected, 0.9% prior); University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment, May final (67.6 expected, 67.4 previously)

Josh Schafer is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on X @_joshschafer.

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