A Short Market Week, Walmart Earnings and Warren Buffett’s Letter

A Short Market Week, Walmart Earnings and Warren Buffett’s Letter


Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders dispenses investment advice, folksy wisdom and a few corny jokes along with an update on the company’s business.

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Here’s what to expect in the week ahead:


Markets will be closed for Presidents’ Day.

In observance of Presidents’ Day, financial markets and most banks in the United States will be closed on Monday. The holiday, established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, is now generally viewed as a day to celebrate all United States presidents. For most Americans, though, the day has become an occasion to hit the stores for sales over the long weekend. Mathew Brownstein


The European Central Bank picks a new vice president.

Finance ministers from the eurozone, meeting in Brussels, are expected on Monday to recommend a replacement for Vítor Constâncio, the vice president of the European Central Bank, whose term expires at the end of May. The only two candidates are Luis de Guindos, the economics minister of Spain, who is the favorite; and Philip Lane, the governor of Ireland’s central bank. The selection of a new vice president is the first in a series of major personnel decisions that could alter the character of the central bank. The culmination will be the choice of a successor to Mario Draghi, the president, whose term expires in October 2019. Jack Ewing


Walmart’s earnings may show the strength of e-commerce.

Walmart reports its fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday. Analysts will bee looking for signs that the nation’s largest retailer can continue to build out its e-commerce business without greatly eroding profits. Walmart is also expected to release details on its sales from the holidays, which were strong for many retailers. Michael Corkery


Big British banks will report earnings.

Investors will be focused on British banks as that nation’s largest lenders are scheduled report their fourth-quarter results, including HSBC on Tuesday, Lloyds Banking Group on Wednesday, Barclays on Thursday and Royal Bank of Scotland on Friday.

Several of Europe’s biggest banks have taken large charges in the fourth quarter as they have been hit by changing tax laws, particularly in the United States. Last week, Credit Suisse reported a fourth-quarter loss of 2.13 billion francs, or about $2.3 billion, driven primarily by 2.23 billion francs in income tax expenses as a result of tax changes in the United States. Chad Bray


The Fed will release details about its January meeting.

The Federal Reserve spent much of last year debating whether inflation was rising too slowly. New year, new problem: A federal tax cut took effect in January, the unemployment rate is just 4.1 percent and investors are now worried that inflation might start rising too quickly. That, in turn, could prompt the Fed to accelerate the upward drift of its benchmark interest rate. So far, there’s no sign that the Fed has adjusted its plans. The central bank, as expected, left the benchmark rate unchanged at its first meeting of the year, in late January. It will publish an account of that meeting on Wednesday, providing at least a little more information about its outlook and its plans for the coming year. Binyamin Appelbaum

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