Fed, data, earnings on collision course

With U.S. Stocks hovering near record highs, investors will be ambushed with a slew of potentially market-moving drivers this week, including the Fed’s next meeting on interest rates, earnings reports from close to 200 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and fresh readings on U.S. Economic growth, consumer confidence and sales of long-lasting goods such as dishwashers and ovens.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 20, 2016.  (EPA/JUSTIN LANE)

While the Dow Jones industrial average finished the just-ended week up slightly higher, it did suffer two lackluster days to close the week despite edging higher Friday. The Dow ended the week a tad above the key18,000 level.

In late-morning trading, investors were showing signs of caution, pushing the Dow down about 100 points, although off its session lows.

This week should shed light on key questions at the top of Wall Street’s must-know list. Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will decide whether and when to hike rates this year.

While no rate increase is expected at the April meeting, there’s a good chance the Fed will “leave the door open to a rate hike at its next meeting in mid-June,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, told clients in his weekly report.

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On the economic front, investors will get the first reading on first-quarter GDP, which is forecast to slow to around 0.7%, according to median projections, down from 1.4% in the final quarter of 2015. Still, Wall Street expects a pickup to begin in the current quarter.

Investors will also get key profit reports from iPhone maker Apple, social media giant Facebook and online retailer Amazon.Com, to name a few.

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