The Federal Reserve could be key for Wall Street next week as investors get to hear from the U.S. central bank for the first time since a series of moves by its global peers, including the European Central Bank's massive stimulus plan. Thursday's larger-than-expected stimulus package from the ECB lifted U.S. stocks, helping indexes post gains for the week after three straight weeks of losses.
After the surprises from central banks which rocked markets at the start of the year, the U.S. Federal Reserve will be watched as closely as ever this week to see that it doesn't stray from its own policy path. The atmosphere will already be tense as the fallout from Sunday's snap election in Greece settles and concern has grown in some quarters that central banks, which played such a big part in guiding economies through the financial crisis, are becoming less predictable. The shock of the Swiss National Bank abandoning its cornerstone currency cap had yet to fully subside when the European Central Bank said it would flood markets with over a trillion euros, more than expected, to prevent the euro zone from sliding into deflation. Canada also cut its rate out of the blue and Denmark did so twice to navigate a world of tumbling oil prices and weak growth.
In a likely sign of things to come from a number of companies this results reporting season, Ford Motor Co on Friday said it was taking a pre-tax charge of $800 million for its Venezuela business. Ford also said that it was unable to maintain normal production in Venezuela with the availability of vehicle parts constrained. Also on Friday, diaper and tissue maker Kimberly-Clark Corp said it took a fourth-quarter charge of $462 million for its Venezuelan business.