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US Economics Week Ahead: Jobs to the Rescue?

November 28th, 2009 Michael McDonough

This week investors face a barrage of data in addition to Chairman Bernanke’s Senate confirmation hearing.  On the economic front, Friday’s employment report should steal the show followed closely Tuesday’s manufacturing ISM release. Both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing ISM reports have indicated expansion over the past three months, and should again in November, albeit at a potentially slower pace due to some weakness in the Fed districts’ manufacturing surveys during the month.

Leading up to Friday’s employment report investors will be paying close attention to the ADP and both the ISM and Non-ISM employment indices, which have the potential to sway the current market consensus forecast of a -100K decline in payrolls. Other notable indicators this week include Monday’s Chicago PMI; Tuesday’s motor vehicle sales, construction spending, and pending home sales; Wednesday’s Beige Book; Thursday’s jobless claims and non-manufacturing ISM release; and finally Friday’s factory orders.

Other potential headline drivers this week include Fed talk from Charles Plosser and Jeffrey Lacker, the start of the Senate’s debate on healthcare, President Obama’s job’s forum, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday.

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

Monday, Nov. 30

*9:45 a.m. EST: November’s Chicago PMI (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The Chicago PMI measures business activity in the mid-West, and is released one business day prior to the ISM. *I should note that the Chicago PMI is released several minutes early to subscribers, so the market could react at 9:42 a.m. on the news.  This index is considered a forward looking indicator to the national ISM, so any large unexpected shifts in the Chicago PMI could impact trading.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 53.0, versus to 54.2 in October.  The PMI could experience some upward momentum stemming from a 15 point increase in the new orders index.  The PMI covers both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors.

10:30 a.m. EST: November’s Texas Manufacturing Outlook (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): This index is not highly publicized, and tracks manufacturing activity within the Dallas Feds jurisdiction.  Last month’s survey suggested, “Texas factory activity declined in October, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index—a key indicator of current manufacturing activity—edged further into negative territory, suggesting output in October contracted after remaining stable in September.”

3:00 p.m. EST: 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.

Tuesday, Dec. 1

November’s Motor Vehicle Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Motor vehicle sales will likely edge down slightly in November, which is historically a weak month for auto sales.  Auto sales climbed 17.2% in October.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for auto sales of 7.75 million compared to 7.90 million in October.  However, it should be noted that if this forecast is realized, then auto sales would finish positive for the first time on an annual basis since November 2007.

7:45 a.m. EST: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales (Risk: Neutral, 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 no change in store sales compared to a decline of -0.1% a week prior.

8:55 a.m. EST: 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 rose 2.8% last week on a year over year basis.

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s ISM Manufacturing Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): The ISM could face some downward pressure during the month after other manufacturing indices including the NY and Richmond Fed indices experienced declines in November.  It will also be important for investors to pay close attention to the forward looking new orders index, along with the employment index for clues towards Friday’s payroll release.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 55.0 versus 55.7, a month prior.  The forecast range is from 53.8 to 56.0.

10:00 a.m. EST: October’s Construction Spending (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): Construction spending will likely decline modestly after rising 0.8% in September.  Construction spending was revised down in August from +0.8% to -0.1% after experiencing a surprise gain in September.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast   is for a decline in spending of -0.4%.

10:00 a.m. EST: October’s Pending Home Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Pending home sales have been on a tear providing plenty of momentum for existing and new home sales.  Pending home sales rose 6.1% in September, which was the index’s 8th consecutive month of gains for the index—the longest streak in the index’s history.

12:20 p.m. EST:  Charles Plosser, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President, will discuss the economic outlook.

Wednesday, Dec. 2

7:00 a.m. EST: MBA Mortgage 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.  Applications fell 4.5% last week after dropping 2.5%% a week prior.  Refinance applications dropped 9.5%, while purchase applications rose 9.6%.  A wave of buyers, filling out multiple mortgage applications, that were looking to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit–originally set to expire on Nov. 30th–have already completed their transactions, and have recently reduced the demand for mortgages.    However, the recent extension of the first time home buyer tax credit should eventually bring a new set of buyers into the market, which could help support the purchase index over the coming months.

7:30 a.m. EST: Challenger Job Cut Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This index measures the number of announced corporate mass layoffs, but does not take into account the timing of the actual layoffs.  Meaning layoffs announced in November may not actually take place until December, or even take place slowly over an extended period of time.

8:15 a.m. EST: ADP Employment Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The ADP Employment report is considered a good window into Friday’s critical payroll number.  Any significant swings in this release combined with unexpected shifts in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing ISM employment indices could shift the consensus forecast for Friday’s employment release.

10:30 a.m. EST: 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 an increment of 1.0 million barrels versus a decline of -0.9 million barrels a week prior.

2:00 p.m. EST: Beige Book (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): Anecdotal evidence toward growth in the Fed’s Beige Book has slowly been turning more positive, which has recently been demonstrated through other economic indicators.  This report is typically released two weeks prior to FOMC meetings.

Thursday, Dec. 3

Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman, is scheduled to appear for a confirmation hearing for the Senate Banking Committee.

President Obama will be holding a conference with leaders from the business, labor, finance and the nonprofit sectors.

Monster Employment Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Marginal): This survey conducted by Monster Worldwide Inc. measures online job demand.  According to the company, “The rise in the October Index, along with an improvement in the annual rate, indicate a mild expansion in the underlying employer demand for workers” said Jesse Harriott, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Monster Worldwide. “While the decline in consumer confidence has likely contributed to reduced job demand in the retail and hospitality sectors, employers are actively recruiting in the healthcare and public sectors, resulting in stability of the overall Index.”

November’s Chain Store Sales (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): US chain store sales should remain relatively flat to up modestly during the month on the back of mixed retail results.  Relatively strong performance in the ICSC-Goldman Sachs weekly chain store sales index should bode well for retailers, but numerous headwinds still exist, including a weak labor market and wavering consumer confidence reducing spending.

8:30 a.m. EST: Jobless Claims (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): Initial claims fell 35K last week to 466K, after showing no change a week prior. This is the lowest level reading since September 2008. But, a portion of this improvement was due to a strong seasonal adjustment factors due to annual deviations in the date of the Thanksgiving holiday—this could add some volatility to the index next week.  Nevertheless, claims continue to trend down and are indicative of fewer job losses in the monthly employment report, however, the job situation will still continue to get worse before it gets better.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is expecting claims to come in at 485K, an increase of 19K form last week.

8:30 a.m. EST: Final Third Quarter Productivity and Costs (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): The recent revision of third quarter GDP to 2.8% from 3.5%, will likely lead to a minor downward revision to last quarter’s stellar productivity number.  The Bloomberg consensus forecast is expecting a revised quarterly increase in productivity of 8.6%, compared to the original release indicating a jump of 9.5%. But, strong gains in productivity could cause employers to delay hiring as they are now receiving more output from fewer workers.  The Bloomberg consensus forecast is also anticipating an upward revision to unit labor costs from -5.2% to -4.2%.

10:00 a.m. EST: November’s ISM Non-Manufacturing Index (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Significant): The ISM non-manufacturing index should experience a modest rise during the month, realizing the third consecutive month of a reading over 50.  It will also be important to monitor the index’s employment component, which could impact Friday’s employment situation forecasts.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a reading of 52.0 compared to 50.6 in October. 

10:30 a.m. EST: 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.

4:30 p.m. EST: 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 shrank last week to US$2.189trn from US$2.192trn, after ballooning two weeks 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.

Friday, Dec. 4

8:30 a.m. EST: November’s Employment Situation Report (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Very Significant): Continued second derivative improvements in the labor market should help slow the decline in payrolls after last month’s -190K drop.  The current Bloomberg consensus forecast for November’s payrolls is a decline of -100K, with the unemployment rate unchanged at 10.2%.  It will be important to monitor this week’s ADP, ISM employment index, and non-ISM employment index for unexpected swings that could impact the consensus forecast.

10:00 a.m. EST:  Charles Plosser, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President, will give opening remarks at conference on Policy Lessons from the Economic and Financial Crisis in Philadelphia.

10:00 a.m. EST: September’s Factory Orders (Risk: Neutral, Market Reaction: Moderate): A weak advanced durable goods release could place some downward pressure on factory orders. The current Bloomberg consensus forecast is for a modest increment of 0.2%, compared to a rise of 0.9% in September.

1:15 p.m. EST:  James Bullard, the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President, will speak at the Philly Fed’s conference.

Enjoy the weekend!

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