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Economic output, jobless claims, card earnings: 3 things to watch

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By Liz Moyer

Investing.com — Tech stocks led a slide in the major indexes on Wednesday, weighed by investor worries over slowing growth and a pullback in customer activity.

While a slowdown is the result of Federal Reserve interest rate increases designed to cool the economy, investors worry whether the moves will go too far and tip the economy into a recession. Thursday’s release of preliminary data on gross domestic product for the fourth quarter is expected to show an increase from the third quarter, though a narrower one.

The Fed is meeting next week for its first policy decision of 2023, and analysts expect it will raise rates again, but at a lower increment. The consensus is that rates will go up a quarter of a percentage point, which is a lower amount than at its previous meetings. Fed officials have talked about wanting to get the terminal rate, now around 4.25% to 4.50% up above 5%, which means there would probably be at least one more rate hike after next week if the Fed sticks to expectations.

In the meanwhile, corporate earnings continue, with some corporate executives sounding cautious for now. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), for example, said the fourth quarter slowdown in growth within its cloud services business would likely continue into the current quarter as customers rein in their spending to brace for tougher economic times ahead.

Next week brings another key economic data point, though it will be after the Fed announces its decision on Wednesday. That would be the jobs report for January, which will be released Friday Feb. 3.

Here are three things that could affect markets tomorrow:

1. Economic output

The preliminary reading of fourth quarter gross domestic product is due out at 8:30 ET (13:30 GMT). Analysts are expecting it to say the economy grew 2.6% from the third quarter, but that would be less than the 3.2% growth for the third quarter.

2. Jobless claims

As the Fed decides what to do with interest rates, a tight labor market still factors into its process. Initial jobless claims for last week will be released at 8:30 ET. Analysts expect 205,000, which would be more than the previous week.

3. Card earnings

Credit card giants Visa Inc Class A (NYSE:V) and Mastercard are both slated to report earnings, and analysts will be listening to what they say about credit quality and consumer spending. Visa is seen reporting earnings per share of $2.01 on revenue of $7.7 billion. Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) is seen reporting a profit of $2.58 a share on revenue of $5.8B.

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