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US Economics Week Ahead: Markets Try to Find Traction in an Array of Data

September 25th, 2009 Michael McDonough

There’s no doubt this week’s most important release will be Friday’s employment report, which is expected to show a decline in payrolls of -170K with an unemployment rate of 9.8%.  This week could prove critical as markets try to regain some traction after several negative surprises last week, including lower than anticipated existing home sales and durable goods orders.  However, looking at the docket this week (and possibly the months ahead) may hold slightly more downside risk than upside as the effects of the Cash for Clunkers program continues to fade, and the first time home buyer credit ticks closer to expiration come the end of November.  Other heavy hitters to watch this week include Tuesday’s consumer confidence report, Wednesday’s Chicago PMI release, and jobless claims, ISM, and personal income and outlays on Thursday.

Ending on a more positive note, the US is expected to return to positive GDP growth starting in 3Q09 on the back of improvements in the inventory cycle stemming from a slower rate of destocking.  However, the magnitude and longevity of this return to growth will be strongly dependent on consumer demand returning to the market.

Here is the rest of this week’s US calendar:

Monday September 28th:

8:30AM: Chicago Fed National Activity Index for July (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The CFNAI is an index consisting of 85 separate data sets designed to encompass national economic activity and inflationary pressure. A reading of 0 indicates the economy is growing at the historical trend while a negative or positive result indicates the economy is growing below or above its historical average, respectively. Given the volatile nature of this index, the three-month moving average is typically quoted. This index remains somewhat obscure in the mainstream media and is likely to have a minimal impact on trading. This index has shown improvements over the preceding six months and is expected to improve again in August from its reading of -1.7 in July.

10:30AM: Dallas Fed, Texas Manufacturing Outlook (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index is not highly publicized, and tracks manufacturing activity within the Dallas Feds jurisdiction.  Last month’s survey suggested “that factory activity continued to contract at a slower pace in August.”

Tuesday September 29th:

7:45AM: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Marginal): This weekly index tracks aggregate store sales across major US retailers, accounting for roughly 10% of total retail sales.  Given recent data supporting an increasing US saving rates and a worsening employment situation, this index could face some downward pressure.  Last week’s number indicated a weekly decline of -2.0% in store sales compared to an increase of +0.0% a week prior.

8:55AM: Redbook (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Marginal): The Redbook is a weekly measurement of chain stores, discounters, and department store sales.  This indicator tends to be less significant than the ICSC-Goldman Store Sales in forecasting retail sales.  According to the Redbook store sales were down -2.6% last week on a year over year basis.

9:00AM: S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The Case Shiller HPI has shown some signs of life rising 1.4% in June with only Las Vegas and Detroit experiencing monthly declines.  But, on a year over year basis both the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city composite indices are still down over 15%.  Nevertheless, the index will likely show a modest monthly improvement in July on the back of relatively strong housing activity.

9:50AM: Richard Fisher, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President, gives a speech on the state of the economy.

10:00AM: Consumer Confidence (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Significant): Recent advances in other consumer confidence indicators, including Reuters/UMich Consumer Sentiment Index, should help add some upward momentum to the Conference Board’s September Consumer Confidence number.   A weak labor market is still a big concern for consumers, however, indications that the economy may be improving will likely not go unnoticed.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for an increase to 57.0 from August’s number of 54.1.

10:00AM: State Street Investor Confidence Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): The State Street Investor’s Confidence Index measures investors’ tolerance to risk.  According to the State Street report, “[August’s] increase represents the eighth consecutive improvement in Global Investor Confidence, and places the risk appetite of institutional investors firmly in the range that is associated with accumulation of risk exposures,” They went on to say. “At the same time, the rate of increase in the Index has moderated relative to some months ago, suggesting that institutions are being somewhat selective in their allocations.”

3:00PM: Farm Prices (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Given the relationship between farms prices and food prices, this index could have significant implications on future headline CPI.

7:00PM: Charles Plosser, Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President, is speaking on Fed’s role in the economy at the Lehigh Valley Economic Outlook

Wednesday September 30th:

7:00AM: MBA Purchase Applications (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index, which tracks new mortgage applications tends to be a reasonable forward looking indicator for home sales, but issues including customers filling out numerous applications could skew the index.  Last week’s data showed an increment of 12.8% on higher refinancing activity stemming from mortgages rates slipping below 5%.  The refinance index rose 17.4%, while the purchase index rising 5.6%.Refinances made up 63.8% of all applications last week.

8:15AM: ADP Employment Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The ADP Employment report is considered a good window into Friday’s critical payroll number.  Last month, however, the ADP reported indicated job losses of -298K, while payrolls declined by only -216K.

8:30AM: GDP (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): According to the Bloomberg consensus survey, the BEA’s final estimate of 2Q09 GDP is likely to come in at -1.2%, compared to the preliminary estimate of -1.0%.  The culprits behind the anticipated slippage are faster inventory liquidation and weaker net exports. GDP is widely expected to turn positive in 3Q09.

9:45AM: Chicago PMI (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Moderate): This Chicago PMI measures business activity in the mid-West, and is released one day prior to the national ISM index.  Adverse effects from strong seasonal adjustment factors could cause this index to surprise on the downside.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for an increase to 52.0 in September versus 50.0 in August.  It will be important to pay close attention to any significant changes to the new orders, employment, and prices paid indices. The new orders index broke above 50 in August for the first time in 11 months.

10:30AM: EIA Petroleum Status Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report measures US domestic petroleum inventories.  Large unanticipated swings in this index could have a significant impact on energy prices.  Last week this report showed a rise of 2.8mn barrels versus a decline of -4.7mn barrels a week prior.

Thursday October 1st:

Motor Vehicle Sales (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Moderate): Auto sales will likely face a sharp pullback in September, no longer benefitting from the US government’s Cash for Clunkers program.  The current Bloomberg consensus is forecasting 8.0mn domestic sales for September, versus a 10.1mn annual pace in August.  Despite the precipitous drop, the y/y decline should be less now than it was prior to the Cash for Clunkers program, which is somewhat positive.

Monster Employment Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This survey conducted by Monster Worldwide Inc. measures online job demand.

7:30AM: Challenger Job-Cut Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This index measures the number of announced corporate mass layoffs, but does not take into account the timing of the actual layoffs.  Meaning layoffs could be announced in September, but not take place until October, or may even take place slowly over an extended period of time.

8:30AM: Personal Income & Outlays (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): The temporaneous effects of the Cash for Clunkers program have likely lead to a significant increment in consumer spending for August, with the Bloomberg consensus forecast anticipating a 1.1% monthly increase, higher energy prices may have also had a marginal impact.  Personal income will likely turn slightly positive for the month on the back of higher average wages; the current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a monthly increment of 0.1% versus no change last month.  The core PCE is expected to rise 0.1%.

8:30AM: Jobless Claims (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Initial claims fell last week by 21K to 530K. Initial claims should continue to demonstrate marginal improvements over the coming months as weakness in the labor market slowly abates. But, make no mistake about it these levels are still uncomfortably high, and will continue to adversely impact the US payroll data for some time.  In fact using a simple regression analysis claims at their current levels would indicate a decline in payrolls of roughly 480K, however, recently this model has been exaggerating the actual effect on payrolls, but nevertheless is a cause for concern going forward.  The current Bloomberg consensus for this week’s initial claims release is 537K. The anticipated increment for claims may still be due to seasonal adjustment effects stemming from the later than usual Labor Day Holiday.

10:00AM: ISM Manufacturing Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): In August the ISM rose for the 8th consecutive month finishing August at 52.9, this was the index’s first reading above the breakeven point of 50 since January 2008.  Looking to September, the current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 53.5, which I personally believe may be slightly optimistic.  Nevertheless, the new orders index did jump last month to 64.9 from 55.3.  With that in mind it will be very important to pay close attention to September’s new orders and employment index, which could help set the tone for the overall report.

10:00AM: Construction Spending (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Moderate): According to the Bloomberg consensus survey construction spending is expected to fall -0.1% in August versus a decline of -0.2% in July.  Non-residential construction should continue placing the strongest downward pressure on the overall index, while residential construction spending also has the potential to move into negative territory after gaining 2.3% in July and 0.4% in June on a strengthening housing market.

10:00AM: Pending Home Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Pending home sales rose 3.2% in June, realizing its sixth consecutive monthly gain.  However, pending home sales could start facing some pressure over the coming months as the first time home buyer tax credit is presently set to expire on November 30th.

10:30AM: EIA Natural Gas Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This report highlights domestic natural gas inventories, which could have a significant impact on the energy sector.

4:30PM: Fed Balance Sheet & Money Supply (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Since the Fed’s shift to quantitative easing, the balance sheet has become one method to measure to the Fed’s effectiveness.  The market will pay close attention to the reserve bank credit component, which measures factors supplying   providing reserves into the banking system.  The Fed’s balance sheet rose again last week to US$2.141trn from US$2.125trn a week prior.  The fed’s balance sheet has slowly been shifting away from emergency lending facilities to Treasuries, agency debt, and mortgage-backed securities to help moderate long-term interest rates.

5:30PM: Sandra Pianalto, Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President, is speaking at a Market News international seminar in NY.

Friday October 2nd:

8:30AM: Employment Situation Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Very Significant): The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a decline in payrolls of -170K for September, compared to a decline of -216K in August.  However, it is important to keep in mind that a later than usual Labor Day could lead to some discrepancies in this month’s data.  Nevertheless, we should see an improvement from last month’s declines.  According to the Bloomberg consensus forecast the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 9.8% from 9.7%.

10:00AM: Factory Orders (Risk: Negative, Market Reaction: Moderate): The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for an increment in factory orders of 1.0% in August, versus +1.3% in July.  However, unexpected weakness in last week’s durable goods release on Friday may cause some revisions to this number.

Enjoy the weekend!

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  1. September 26th, 2009 at 00:00 | #1

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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