Inflation, violence, artificial intelligence… There's a lot to think about right now if you have ASX shares.
Fortunately, eToro market analyst Josh Gilbert has filtered out the noise and picked out the three biggest developments you need to concentrate on this week:
1. Australia retail sales
Activity in the retail sector is a major indicator of how the economy is running, and the latest figures coming out Monday will guide the Reserve Bank's next interest rate decision on Melbourne Cup day.
Last week's numbers from individual ASX retailers showed consumers were cutting back on their spending, according to Gilbert.
"Big hitters such as JB-Hi Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) and Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN) both reported a decline in sales during FYQ1, following a fairly successful year for both of the shopping centre giants."
In a headache for the Reserve Bank's fight against inflation, sector-wide sales have been robust throughout this year.
"This week, markets expect to see retail sales rise by 0.3% month on month.
"If retail sales continue to follow the trends observed this year, we may see September's figures come in above the predicted figure of 0.3%."
Anything above expectations will force the central bank's hand.
"Importantly, this will be the last and key data point the Reserve Bank gets before its November meeting."
2. US interest rate decision
On Thursday, the US Federal Reserve will reveal its latest rates judgement.
According to Gilbert, the third quarter GDP growth beat expectations, so this good news is bad news for those looking for rate relief.
"The US economy remains resilient and likely means it can handle further hikes should the Fed decide it's necessary," he said.
"The Fed kept rates on hold in September after hiking interest rates from 5.25% to 5.5% at the July 2023 meeting."
With a market perhaps spooked that interest rates may need to stay "higher for longer", the US technology sector was sold off last week.
"Geopolitical tensions also remain a concern, with the prospect of easing tensions seemingly still a while off, putting investors into 'risk-off' mode."
3. Apple earnings
A US tech company popular with Australian investors, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), reports its latest results on Friday morning Australian time.
Last week, market reaction to other tech giants' numbers was polarising.
"Companies are clearly being rewarded for beating expectations but punished for anything less than perfect results."
Gilbert reckons last month's release of the new iPhone model may have come at an opportune time.
"Investors will want to understand the level of consumer demand for the new models."
Artificial intelligence is the hot topic with other tech companies, but Apple has not said much about it… yet.
"So far, Apple has kept its AI cards close to its chest," said Gilbert.
"With companies now beginning to report success with their AI ventures, investors will want to hear more details from Apple."
Apple shares have risen 33.4% year to date, but since the end of July, they have plunged 15%.
"Market consensus is earnings of US$1.39 and revenue of US$89.31 billion."