View our top six stories to look out for this week (14-18 August), plus our key company earnings schedule.

North Korea uncertainty, Fed minutes, UK & China data

Michael Hewson looks at the recent change in sentiment caused by the uncertainty in North Korea, and he looks ahead to the latest Fed minutes, and UK and China data.

Watch the video preview >

Could China’s economy be faltering after strong Q2? 
Monday: Last week’s Chinese trade data seems to suggest that domestic demand slowed down in July, with declines in both imports as well as exports evident. Following a stronger-than-expected Q2, could this be indicative of a slowdown in the Chinese economy? This week’s retail sales and industrial production data may well shed some light on that.

Did US retail sales heat up in July?
Tuesday: Concerns about rising consumer credit and squeezed incomes have been constraining US consumer spending in recent months, with retail sales showing two months of successive declines in May and June. Will July make it an unwelcome hat-trick, or will the US consumer bounce back as a resilient labour market improves consumer sentiment?

Fed minutes to provide insight on balance sheet normalisation
Wednesday: At the last Fed meeting the statement was changed to suggest that the start of balance sheet normalisation could begin relatively soon, which in market parlance would suggest September. This week’s minutes could give some important clues as to whether there was any more discussion around that, particularly since inflation pressures continue to stay stubbornly weak.

Why hi-tech giant’s shareholders are feeling low
Wednesday: At its last earnings update, Cisco Systems announced the loss of 1,100 jobs in addition to the 5,500 announced at the end of its last fiscal year, as it struggles to meet revenue targets. Sales in the public sector proved to be the main drag as Washington politicians squabbled over government expenditure. Cisco’s security business fared better, although the feeling is that it’s still underperforming. This week’s Q4 numbers should test that.

Will Wal-Mart & Target miss the bullseye?
Wednesday & Thursday: US big box retailers have had a tough time recently as US consumers eschew the mall in favour of online shopping. However, at its most recent trading update, some Wal-Mart stores showed improvements in footfall and sales. Target on the other hand fell short of its sales targets, though did manage to beat expectations. Will this week’s trading updates deliver?

Open a live account or log in to access the instruments shown in bold on the platform. Remember, losses can exceed deposits.

Index dividend schedule

If you trade indices, dividend payments from an index's constituent shares can result in either a credit or debit to your account. 
View this week's indices dividend drop points table

Selected UK & US company earnings schedule

Monday 14 AugustResults
No major UK or US companies reporting 
Tuesday 15 AugustResults
Advance Auto Parts  (US)Q2  
Coach  (US)Q4  
Home Depot  (US)Q2  
TJX Cos  (US)Q2  
Wednesday 16 AugustResults
Cisco Systems  (US)Q4  
L Brands  (US)Q2  
Target  (US)Q2  
Thursday 17 AugustResults
Madison Square Garden Co  (US)Q4  
Applied Materials  (US)Q3  
Gap  (US)Q2  
Wal-Mart  (US)Q2  
Friday 18 AugustResults
Deere & Co  (US)Q3  
Estee Lauder  (US)Q4  
Foot Locker (US)Q2  
Hibbett Sports (US)Q2  

Company announcements are subject to change. All the events listed above were correct at the time of writing.

CMC Markets is an execution-only service provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.