The last week of August and the week that includes Labor Day are favorites for Wall Street types to take some vacation time. That likelihood only increased for a great deal of institutional players who needed to postpone their vacation plans of the two weeks just passed. I could just hear them explaining to their dearests, "You don't get it sweetheart, if I don't go to the office, there may not be a vacation next year."
Still, we don't care how powerful you are, you can only hold the wife off for so long. We anticipate a barren scene (excuse the pun) on Wall Street over the next two weeks, depending on the number and degree of finance fires that need to be put out. However, today's virtual world caters to the investment banker, and if need be, he can always just hop on a helicopter or seaplane and return from the Hamptons early.
Still, the fun in the sun did not stop the retail crowd from withdrawing $6.8 billion from mutual funds last week, excluding ETF activity. In fact, it probably offered most some free time to do so. We expect more of the same in the near-term, as retail dough typically lags the smart money
, which, according to Barron's, was bargain hunting.
Your favorite Greek fondly recalls the summer commute in New York. If I wasn't on a beach in Greece, I was enjoying a significantly shorter cab share line on the Upper East Side and half empty Mario Van Shuttles or subway car rides home in the evenings. It almost made the soupy humidity bearable. The point here is that trading should be significantly lighter this week, and maybe next week as well, depending on when school starts and if papa is going to grant junior a reprieve so his old man can finally get some rest. Now, lighter volume does not imply less volatility. It just means you can't read too much into market and security movements, and you should not let the downticks panic you. That said, the week ahead is information heavy, setting up a quite ominous scenario in such precarious times.Monday
kicks off the week with an opportunity for the housing market to provide verification or refutation of last week's stronger than expected new home sales for the month of July. You see, the existing home sales market is much more important (read bigger) than that for new abodes, and July's used market results are due out at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning. According to Bloomberg's consensus of economists, we should look for an annual sales pace of 5.7 million. That's down from June's 5.75 million.
In other news, we should note that markets in the U.K. will be closed for the day. In the U.S., Monday's earnings report schedule is light and includes Harmony Gold Mining (NYSE: HMY), Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company (NYSE: SHI), Streamline Health Solutions (NASDAQ: STRM), Winn-Dixie (NASDAQ: WINN) and a few others.Tuesday
ushers in the possibility of a blood red
close, due to some important news from the Federal Reserve. At 2:00 p.m., the Fed will release the minutes from its August Federal Open Market Committee meeting, and Barron's speculates it may also release the minutes from its August 16 conference call that preceded the group's decision to cut the discount rate by 50 basis points. Wall Street Greek certainly hopes that if the August meeting notes carry a hawkish tone, the Fed will consider the consequences of such a message, and also issue the notes from its emergency conference call. If it does so, our concerns will be doubly pacified by the fact that William Poole was busy at a prior arrangement that day and was reportedly not present for the call or the vote to cut the discount rate. Therefore, we will likely be spared any of his discussion of calamitous
The first bit of news out on Tuesday will be the regular weekly ICSC-UBS same-store sales data, providing some further insight into the state of the retail environment. Last week's report showed a week-to-week increase of 0.2% and year-over-year rise of 2.7%. While still growing, retail expansion is running at a much more moderate pace of late. Wall Street Greek continues to advise of our expectation that retail sales will weaken on consumer softness, in light of the many often discussed pressures on the center column of our economy.
At 10:00, the Conference Board is scheduled to report consumer confidence. Bloomberg's consensus of experts sees confidence slipping in August, to 105, from 112.6 in July. We will not insult your intelligence here by explaining why... The S&P/Case Shiller home price index for June is also due for release on Tuesday, and we expect it to post another decline. If not, we are fairly certain that July's results will show a dramatic decline in prices, as implied by the pickup in new home sales during the relative month.
Tuesday marks the end of the extension for Accredited Home Lenders (NASDAQ: LEND) and it's savior to consummate their agreement. We believe LEND's earlier threat
of lawsuit led to the extension and was meant to nudge the deal's closing. However, we also believe last week's announcement that LEND's CFO would resign at the end of the month could imply another result. LEND also laid off some 1,600 employees last week and stopped taking U.S. mortgage applications. We do not believe you stop doing business if you expect to close a deal that is suppose to keep you in business. Thus, we view the potential for a bankruptcy filing in the near-term more likely than LEND's deal closure.
Tuesday's earnings reports include Anaren Incorporated (NASDAQ: ANEN), Applied Signal Technology (NASDAQ: APSG), Aruba Networks (NASDAQ: ARUN), Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO), Bank of Nova Scotia (NYSE: BNS), Borders Group (NYSE: BGP), China Medical Technologies (NASDAQ: CMED), Converium Holding AG (NYSE: CHR), Corinthian Colleges (NASDAQ: COCO), CPI Corporation (NYSE: CPY), CRH plc (NYSE: CRH), Culp Inc. (NYSE: CFI), Dycom Industries (NYSE: DY), Micros Systems (NASDAQ: MCRS), Pacific Internet (NASDAQ: PCNTF), Perceptron (NASDAQ: PRCP), Pike Electric (NYSE: PEC), RG Barry Corp. (AMEX: DFZ), Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ: SAFM), Semtech (NASDAQ: SMTC), Shanda Interactive Entertainment (NASDAQ: SNDA), SourceForge (NASDAQ: LNUX), Tuesday Morning Corp. (NASDAQ: TUES), Versant (NASDAQ: VSNT) and several other international firms.Wednesday
brings the weekly Purchase Applications Index report from the Mortgage Bankers' Association, and because it's much more current than the housing news from last week and Monday, it's more important in our view. Wednesday also sheds more light on the state of the oil market, as the Energy Information Administration issues its weekly Petroleum Status Report.
In other news, Latin America and the world are anticipating a possible general strike in Chile. We are sure Venezuela's Chavez, who recently offered a large chunk of aid to Latin America, will have some more to say on the subject Wednesday. Chavez looks to build up regional support and fuel his own fire against the United States. Situations like the one developing in Chile offer him opportunity to do so. We seek to bring attention to the risk that Mr. Chavez may move from a comical opportunity for the Saturday Night Live cast, to a serious threat to the United States if he is successful in drumming up broader support for his movement.
Wednesday's earnings schedule includes Big Lots (NYSE: BIG), Brown Shoe Co. (NYSE: BWS), Chico's FAS (NYSE: CHS), Citi Trends (NASDAQ: CTRN), Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ: CWTR), Concho Resources (NYSE: CXO), Cyberonics (NASDAQ: CYBX), DaimlerChrysler (NYSE: DAI), Dollar Tree Stores (NASDAQ: DLTR), Double Hull Tankers (NYSE: DHT), Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ: ENER), Finlay Enterprises (NASDAQ: FNLY), Fred's (NASDAQ: FRED), Greif Inc. (NYSE: GEF), HEICO Corp. (NYSE: HEI), Jo-Ann Stores (NYSE: JAS), Joy Global (NASDAQ: JOYG), Layne Christensen (NASDAQ: LAYN), Learning Tree (NASDAQ: LTRE), Net 1 Ueps Technologies (NASDAQ: UEPS), Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL), Collective Brands (NYSE: PSS), PowerShares Dynamic Software (AMEX: PSJ), Quanex (NYSE: NX), Sigma Designs (NASDAQ: SIGM), SWS Group (NYSE: SWS), Synovis Life Technologies (NASDAQ: SYNO), The9 Limited (NASDAQ: NCTY), TiVo, Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), United American Healthcare Corp. (NASDAQ: UAHC), Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM) and more.
The first revision to Q2 GDP growth is set for release on Thursday
, and Bloomberg's consensus sees Real GDP adjusted higher to 4.0%, from 3.4% initially reported. Folks, we advise not getting caught up in the old news
number, despite Hank Paulson's cheerleading that is likely to follow it's release. The here and now seems to clearly indictate a slowing of economic growth or outright recession in coming months. We have been anticipating recession since we started this project almost a year ago. We continue to argue that if a softening consumer does not do it, a messy and complicated war with Iran and its allies (read both nations and terrorist organizations) will.
Weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be reported at 8:30 a.m., and it's about time this data starts to show signs of a weakening employment environment. We expect the later September report of the Employment Situation will show new hiring sharply lower, excluding seasonal affects. The Help Wanted Index, reported Thursday as well, might have proven valuable, but it focuses on print ads for jobs. As you know, there is strong migration to the online medium, and the Monster.com data is becoming more important. Still, the Help Wanted numbers remain worth checking in on.
The EIA reports natural gas inventory on Thursday, as usual. As long as the Atlantic is devoid of hurricane, or war with Iran is not imminent, we expect natural gas should continue its trend lower. You see, the most important driver of oil and nat gas is economic health. Some will argue that global demand is what matters, but remember, the natural gas market remains a somewhat localized market. While we believe natural gas is increasingly becoming a more important substitute for oil in many instances, and remains sensitive to changes in the price of oil, we also expect a softer U.S. economy to impact the economies of manufacturing nations and other trading partners. In other words, U.S. weakness should bleed into the global economy enough to impact industrial commodity prices and petrochemicals, not to mention high flying equity markets overseas.
Thursday's earnings schedule includes some specific reports worth breaking out. H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) has some mortgage market exposure that might come to light and hurt the shares on Thursday. Also, the National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG), a beneficiary of expansion into improving Turkish and Eastern European markets, reports earnings. So, there's one long and one short idea for you speculators.
The rest of Thursday's earnings reports include Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), Benihana (NASDAQ: BNHNA), Blyth (NYSE: BTH), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (NYSE: CM), Catalyst Semiconductor (NASDAQ: CATS), Chunghwa Telecom (NYSE: CHT), Conn's Inc. (NASDAQ: CONN), Cost Plus (NASDAQ: CPWM), Credence Systems (NASDAQ: CMOS), Del Monte Foods (NYSE: DLM), dELiA*s Inc. (NASDAQ: DLIA), Edap TMS (NASDAQ: EDAP), Esterline Technologies (NYSE: ESL), FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ: FCEL), Genesco (NYSE: GCO), Gottschalks (NYSE: GOT), Hellenic Telcommunications (NYSE: OTE), Jamba Juice (NASDAQ: JMBA), Kirkland's (NASDAQ: KIRK), LTX Corporation (NASDAQ: LTXX), Omnivision Technologies (NASDAQ: OVTI), Open Text (NASDAQ: OTEX), Peerless Systems (NASDAQ: PRLS), Restoration Hardware (NASDAQ: RSTO), SeaChange International (NASDAQ: SEAC), Silicon Graphics (NASDAQ: SGIC), Standex International (NYSE: SXI), Suez (NYSE: SZE), Telvent (NASDAQ: TLVT), Veolia Environnement SA (NYSE: VE), Vimpel Communications (NYSE: VIP), Wind River Systems (NASDAQ: WIND), Zale Corporation (NYSE: ZLC), and a few more.
Just when you thought it was safe to leave work early for the three day holiday weekend, we get a busy day for economic news Friday
. At 8:30 a.m., the Fed's favorite inflation gauge will be reported, the PCE deflator. If ever it was important for the figure to show inflation moderation, it is now. Personal Income is expected to show a July increase of 0.3%, while Consumption is seen increasing 0.4%. We remind you that these are rearview mirror type numbers, but July was not too far back. Wall Street Greek expects both personal income and spending to trend softer in months to come.
As far as the inflation gauge goes, we do not think the PCE figure matters as much as the Fed does. This is because of our differing view regarding food prices. We know from recent reports and conference calls of major food providers that pricing pressure is not easing for grain, feed and proteins. We know severe disease plagues China's pork market, and are well aware of China's growing need for imported food, due partly to its population growth and partly to its industrial revolution. Food prices are a secular problem, not seasonal, and the Fed must recognize this. Food prices pressure the consumer, and they will not go away any time soon, in our view.
The PCE metric focuses on the prices of consumer goods and services, and the Fed is concerned with prices excluding food and energy. If prices look elevated, the Fed may continue with its avoidance of significant rate reduction. This error, in our view, could discredit the Fed and help lead our economy into deeper recession. If confidence is lost in the Fed's ability to aid securities markets, we expect a great degree of capital could be lost to investors.
The National Association of Purchasing Management - Chicago is seen reporting its index at roughly 53 for August, versus 53.4 in July. More importantly, the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment reading is expected to drop to 82.5 for August, versus 90.4 in July. We agree, sentiment is on the downswing. It's generally been that way all year outside of a few monthly blips higher.
Factory orders are seen rising 3.2% for July, according to Bloomberg's count. On numerous occasions, we have outlined our view that manufacturing will not show weakness until after consumer and employment softness develop in the U.S. This is due to international demand for cheap U.S. product on dollar weakness.
Last but certainly not least important, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be in Jackson Hole attempting to avoid falling into a hole of his own, as he addresses housing, housing finance and monetary policy. We think a few people might be interested in what he has to say...
Friday's earnings reporters include Aktieselskabet Dampskibsselskabet Torm (NASDAQ: TRMD), ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CXSP), Vivendi (Paris: VIV.PA) and many other international firms. The bond market closes at 2 p.m. Enjoy the symbolic final week of summer!Receive Wall Street Greek via email by subscribing here. If you change your mind, it's easy to unsubscribe. We respect your privacy and will not share your information with any third party. (disclosure)