Few Big Names Expected at Saudi Conference, and Data on U.S. Economy

Few Big Names Expected at Saudi Conference, and Data on U.S. Economy

Here’s what to expect in the week ahead:


What was to be three days of mingling for world leaders and financial power players will have fewer boldface names when the Future Investment Initiative conference opens in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, on Tuesday. A number of major companies and their leaders have withdrawn from the event after the disappearance and killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi-born columnist for The Washington Post. Officials from companies including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and BlackRock have withdrawn after Mr. Khashoggi disappeared in Turkey on Oct. 2. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also said he would not attend the conference, as have ministers from Britain, France and the Netherlands.

— Randy Pennell


Ford Motor will report third-quarter earnings on Wednesday as concerns rise about the slow pace of its recovery plan. The company has been battered by the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, and it hasn’t yet revealed a full turnaround strategy, 18 months after Jim Hackett was named chief executive and tasked with revitalizing the automaker. In a reflection of Wall Street’s pessimism, its stock has fallen more than 30 percent this year, to below $9, its lowest point in nearly a decade.

— Neal E. Boudette


Analysts expect Microsoft’s earnings on Wednesday to show the company’s resurgent growth, driven by a push into cloud computing, with revenue up about 13.5 percent over the previous year. Microsoft investors care most about its Azure cloud computing business, which last quarter grew 85 percent over the previous year and has become the leading competitor to Amazon’s web services.

The booming cloud market is one of the big, high-margin businesses investors expect to see grow in Amazon’s earnings report on Thursday. Increasingly, Amazon’s cloud, advertising and subscription offerings have become big and profitable enough to offset Amazon’s investments in its resource-intensive retail business. Analysts expect the company’s quarterly profit will be about $1.5 billion, almost five times what it earned in last year’s third quarter.

— Karen Weise


The European Central Bank will meet to discuss monetary policy on Thursday, in a markedly less certain economic environment than was the case a few weeks ago. Italy is defying eurozone spending rules; President Trump’s trade war is taking a toll on growth; and Britain seems to be stumbling toward a disorderly exit from the European Union. The situation is not so grave that the bank’s Governing Council is expected to alter its plan to slowly wind down the crisis measures it deployed during the last decade. But Mario Draghi, the central bank’s president, may give a more cautious assessment of the eurozone economy when he holds a news conference after the meeting.

— Jack Ewing


Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Thursday. In the previous quarter, Alphabet swallowed a $5.1 billion fine from the European Union for abusing its market dominance in smartphone software. In response to Europe’s antitrust ruling, the company said last week that it would start charging handset manufacturers to install popular Google applications for phones running Android in the European Union. Google will probably face questions on how those plans may affect future results. Separately, Twitter is also set to report earnings on Thursday, with investors focused on whether there will be a continued decline in monthly users.

— Daisuke Wakabayashi


The United States economy surged in the spring, growing at a 4.2 percent rate in the second quarter, the best mark since 2014. Don’t expect a repeat performance when the Commerce Department releases third-quarter figures on Friday: Economists surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show a more modest 3.3 percent growth rate. Still, the economy looks to be on track for its best full-year performance in well over a decade. Many economists expect growth to cool later this year and early next, as the effects of tax cuts and increased government spending fade. But that slowdown, if it happens, won’t be evident until after November’s midterm elections, where Republicans are counting on the economy to help them hold off a “blue wave” of Democratic victories.

— Ben Casselman


Italy’s ability to borrow money could suffer another blow when Standard & Poor’s updates its rating of the country’s debt on Friday. The decision, expected after markets close, will come a week after Moody’s downgraded Italian government bonds to one notch above junk status, citing the populist government’s deficit spending plan. The market interest rates on Italian debt rose to four-year highs after Moody’s decision, and could rise further if S.&P. also issues a downgrade.

— Jack Ewing

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