This Week: Economic Fireworks
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Prepare yourself for the 21 gun economic salute on tap for this holiday shortened business week. Independence Day falls on Saturday this year, so American financial markets will be closed this Friday. With the usual empty economic slate Monday, some twenty-one economic data points will reach the wire over the three days in between. Those data points include the "grand finale" Employment Situation Report on Thursday, so prepare for a blast.
This WeekMonday's activity was reported in a separate article found here: Bernard Madoff Sentencing
Just as dawn breaks, look for the International Council of Shopping Centers' Weekly Same-Store Sales data Tuesday morning. Last week's reporting showed no change in the week-to-week comparison, but a 0.9% drop from the prior year count. The feeling is that the excessive level of rain across the Northeast in June played a role in subduing sales that had seemed to otherwise stabilize.
S&P Case Shiller's two-month old Home Price Index will be released in the pre-market. The would have been useful if it was timely metric will look at housing prices two months ago. If you are curious as to when you can find June pricing data, you will have to wait until August for that. Competent competitors have risen up to fill the data void though, so stay tuned more current pricing data. Also, we're relatively certain the producers of this report will generate an estimated form for at least one month lagged data eventually.
The Midwest is buried in auto industry wreckage, and so the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index is expected to reflect that. Chicago PMI's Business Barometer Index, its composite measure of manufacturing activity, is forecast to read 40.0 for June, versus the 34.9 read in May. Keep in mind that a reading below 50.0 indicates economic contraction.
Two confidence measures reach the wire at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index will be reported for the month of June, with consensus seeing a reading of 57.0, based on Bloomberg's survey. June's measure looks to extend a trend of improvement after readings of 54.9 in May and 40.8 in April.
State Street (NYSE: STT) publishes its Investor Confidence Index at 10:00 as well. There's no consensus estimate available here, nor will the metric move the market, but it's worth a look. State Street measures current levels of investor portfolio risk, not attitudes, so it fits as a nice tool for short-term investment strategy. At last check in May, the reading showed an increasing appetite for risk. We know June has changed things a bit, with investors considering more normalized scenarios and appropriate valuation. Providing you recent readings here would only confuse you now, as the metric has been reset. A reading below 100 indicates a decreasing appetite for risk, while above 100 shows an increasing taste for it.
Like clockwork, after the Fed's FOMC Policy Meeting, Reserve representatives take to the streets. Three Fed reps will address audiences on Tuesday afternoon. St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard will address a luncheon gathering at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. Scheduled for 4:10 PM ET, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig will address NYU's Stern School of Business, and at 9:00 PM ET, San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen will speak to the Common Wealth Club of California in San Francisco.
The Agriculture Department is expected to issue its crop report indicating devoted acreage for specific crops. Barron's notes a likely gain of soybean crops against lower acreage devoted to corn and wheat.
General Motors (NYSE: GM) asks a bankruptcy court to review its asset sales plans after GM's unsecured creditors found no other viable alternatives. Tuesday's earnings slate includes news from Exfo Electro-Optical Engineering (Nasdaq: EXFO), FSI Int'l (Nasdaq: FSII), Investors Real Estate (Nasdaq: IRET), Park Electrochemical (NYSE: PKE), Schnitzer Steel Industries (Nasdaq: SCHN), Sealy Corp. (NYSE: ZZ), SYNNEX (NYSE: SNX) and Vimicro Int'l (Nasdaq: VIMC).
Nine reports are due on Wednesday alone, starting with several in the pre-market. The Mortgage Bankers Association will produce its regular weekly data on mortgage activity in the early going. Last week's report showed an improvement in activity on a modest decrease in contracted fixed rate mortgages.
The day produces three of the monthly employment reports. The Monster Employment Index hits the wire early Wednesday. Monster Worldwide (NYSE: MWW) tracks the demand and supply of online job postings, and as the medium has taken market share from print, the metric has grown in importance. Monster reported its MEI backtracked slightly in May, to 118, from 120 posted in April. We would not expect significant change for June, if not another decrease.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas is due to publish its Job-Cut Report detailing announced corporate layoffs at 7:30 AM. May's data produced improvement, as layoffs fell to 111,182, from the 132,590 cuts noted in April. However, June's data portends the inclusion of more auto industry and related dealership and supplier cuts following the GM bankruptcy.
At 8:15, look for ADP's Private Employment Report to highlight the change in private nonfarm payrolls (read jobs). This preview into the following day's government data has the potential to swing trading, especially given lighter pre-holiday volume. However, any portfolio manager who is not watching the economic scoreboard from the beach deserves a harpooning, so this volume issue may be overdone. May's data showed nonfarm payroll losses worsened to -532K, compared to -491 job cuts in April. The ADP data proved a poor predictor of the government data last month though, as payroll losses improved on the broader measure. Private employers were offset there by a growing public sector.
After the bell, ISM will publish its Manufacturing Index for June. May's data exposed a green shoot, as new orders showed expansionary activity. June, however, remains strained by rising unemployment and the intensifying burden that creates for the economy. Economists forecast a reading of 45.0 for June, versus the 42.8 seen in May.
Construction Spending is due for report at 10:00, with Bloomberg's consensus of economists forecasting a May activity decline of 0.5% (+0.8% in April). This seems counter intuitive, given the recent Housing Start green shoot (+17.2% in May), but construction activity looks to be weighed still by prior "start" weakness. Speaking of housing starts, the monthly Pending Home Sales report is up at 10:00 a.m. This leading indicator for the housing industry improved 6.7% in April, to 90.3, and further gains are expected for May. Indeed, housing and mortgage activity for purchases seem to have benefited from government stimulants, including the tax break for first time home buyers. We noted stubborn mortgage support in the starts segment over the past month, despite the rise in mortgage rates.
Intermittently during the day Wednesday, American automakers will publish their June Motor Vehicle Sales figures. Aggregate domestic sales improved to an annual pace of 7.3 million cars in May, versus the 6.9 million in April. Overall sales also improved, despite higher unemployment and rising gasoline prices. This likely reflects adjustment from the panic-level sales from when the market froze on concern tied to the bankruptcies of Chrysler and GM.
At 10:30, look for the EIA's Petroleum Status Report. Last week's data showed inventories of crude oil decreased by 3.8 million barrels, while gasoline increased by 3.9 million barrels. California might run out of money to pay its bills on Wednesday... guess no fireworks show in Cali?
The day's very light EPS schedule includes Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ), General Mills (NYSE: GIS), DemandTec (Nasdaq: DMAN), Lindsay Corp. (NYSE: LNN), UniFirst (NYSE: UNF) and Unify Corp. (Nasdaq: UNFY).
Take a break from your frozen cocktails and BBQ duties to catch the Employment Situation Report Thursday morning at 8:30. Economists forecast unemployment will move ever closer to double digits, rising to 9.6%, according to Bloomberg's survey. That would represent yet another increase, this time from May's reading of 9.4%. New benefits filers continue to pile on to the massive number of unemployed, and reaching 10%+ seems just a formality at this point. However, there have been some signs of hope here, with the green shoot of a continuing claim filers improvement a few weeks back. Also, new filers seems ready to edge below 600K, still an extremely troubling flow rate. Nonfarm Payrolls are forecast to drop by just 350K this time around, but it just looks like a short number to us, considering the weekly flow of unemployment in June. In May, the Labor Department reported nonfarm payrolls (read jobs) dropped by just 345K, with aid from the infamous birth/death rate adjustment; there's potential for an upward revision here, and reason for market unrest.
Weekly Initial Jobless Claims are seen at 619K in this latest check. That will compare against last week's shedding of 627K jobs. Detroit continues to lose weight, and we wonder how much longer it will take before Michigan deals with civil unrest. High unemployment tends to have some nasty side effects; just ask the Europeans. The state has been in recession from long before the rest of us, and GM's bankruptcy should not have helped sentiment in our Motown metropolis. Michael Jackson's passing seemed almost a symbolic representation of the once bustling town's lost glory.
May Factory Orders are due at 10:00 a.m., with the consensus looking for a monthly jump of 1.4%, compared to an April increase of 0.7%. Durable goods orders soared 1.8% in May and offer insight into a good figure here.
The EIA reports on Natural Gas stocks at 10:30. Much has been said of late regarding the imbalance between natural gas and crude oil pricing, and we will very likely dedicate a few upcoming reports on the energy space. Last week's notation of Nat Gas showed a net increase of 94 Bcf. Stocks were greatly above both the seasonal and five-year average levels, thus giving good cause to natural gas' doldrums.
The day before the holiday produces a handful of EPS reporters. Look for news from Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI), Methode Electronics (NYSE: MEI), MSC Industrial Direct (NYSE: MSM) and MSCI, Inc. (NYSE: MXB).
Happy Fourth folks!!!
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