Important Economic Data Points For The Trading Week Of Feb. 11

by: Wesley Abel

Treasury Budget - Feb. 12, 2:00pET *Consensus: -2B*

The January monthly budget deficit/surplus is to be released on Tuesday by the Treasury Dept. Last month's release showed only a modest increase in the deficit during December of $260M. The range of consensuses was wide and included surpluses as well as deficits. December's number was affected by timing factors and after adjusting for these, the deficit was around $17B. The size of the deficit over the last seven months is displayed below.

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This report also includes the receipts and outlays used in the deficit calculation during the last month. Receipts are up a little more than 66.5% since November with increases in both corporate and personal receipts. The previous seven months of receipts and outlays data is depicted below.

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Import/Export Prices - Feb. 13, 8:30aET *Consensus: Export [-0.2%, 0.4%], Import, [0.1%, 1.2%]*

Wednesday's economic data will kick-off at 8:30a with import and export prices for the month of January. During December, both import and export prices were flat month-over-month. Import prices were down 1.5% over the year and export prices were up 1.1% over the year. The last 12 months of import and export price performance is displayed in the chart below.

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The import and export price indices are reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics each month for the prior month and provide an idea of the inflationary environment of internationally tradable goods.

Retail Sales - Feb. 13, 8:30aET *Consensus: [-0.8%, 0.6%], [-1%, 0.6%] w/out autos, [-0.1%, 0.8%], w/out autos and gas*

Wednesday's Census Bureau retail sales numbers are not expected to show much difference in January from December. If anything, the report will give us an idea of the amount of follow through in retail sales from the holidays. The logged difference of retail sales over 2012 is illustrated below.

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The logged difference is used to approximate the percentage change from the prior period but nevertheless, a slight rebound in retail sales is apparent after plunging in October. Also, this is the first retail sales number that could be affected by recent tax increases.

Business Inventories - Feb. 13, 10:00aET *Consensus: [0.0%, 0.4%]*

Business inventories are the dollar amount of units held by retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers and is reported by the Census Bureau each month for two months prior. Inventories posted a 0.3% increase for the month of November but the recent GDP report showed that inventories were drawn down in December so the business inventories number reported this week could come in a little light.

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Business inventories for January of 2012 through November are displayed in the graph above. Rising inventories can be viewed as a positive sign for the broader economy since it shows confidence in the ability to clear existing inventory.

EIA Petroleum Status - Feb. 13, 10:30aET

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The Energy Information Administration releases the weekly petroleum status report on Wednesday. The graph above shows a weekly time period beginning December 7. Crude imports have remained volatile since December as domestic field production has been rising ever so slightly. That being said, the price of the front-month crude futures contract has been steadily increasing over the same time period. Among other things, this increase in the price can be explained by a softening dollar and geo-politics during the period.

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The price of the front-month contract is also shown above paired with the U.S. crude stock. The crude stock fell during the beginning of December but has regained the losses since then.

Jobless Claims - Feb. 14, 8:30aET *Consensus: [350K, 375K]*

Jobless Claims are reported on a weekly basis by the Department of Labor. Two important components to take note of are the initial and continuing claims. Both numbers have been declining steadily over the last year although the decline has slowed a bit. The graph below shows the weekly reports of initial and continuing claims since December.

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The last week in December posted a spike in initial claims but thankfully we did not see any continuation in the following weeks.

Empire State Mfg. Survey - Feb. 15, 8:30aET *Consensus: [-6.4, 4.0]*

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases the results of a survey of manufacturing executives that gauges manufacturing sentiment in New York for the month. The executives are asked questions about current and future expectations of business conditions. The current general business conditions index and future general business conditions index are shown for 2012 below.

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Manufacturing sentiment has been notably weak over the year for New York and any rising prices could reveal stagflation taking hold. It is encouraging to see future expectations pick up in January. A positive reading on Friday's number for the current conditions would be great news for the region.

Treasury International Capital - Feb. 15, 9:00aET

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The Treasury International Capital reports cover data for the two months prior to the report date. This report details foreign and domestic purchases of foreign and domestic assets. The report on Friday will be for the month of December. The foreign purchases and sales data of U.S. paper during 2012 are shown above. Foreign purchases tapered off beginning in September but were still 127M in November. Foreign sales remained fairly constant over the year.

Industrial Production - Feb. 15, 9:15aET *Consensus: Production [-0.3%, 0.5%], Capacity [78.5%, 79.3%], Manufacturing [-0.4%, 0.7%]*

The Federal Reserve releases the report on industrial production and capacity utilization for the month prior to the report date. The report puts forth a general index but also breaks the data into manufacturing, mining, and gas/utility components. The logged difference of the general production and utilization rates are displayed below.

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Both industrial production and the capacity utilization rate showed a decrease from about a 1% increase in November. Many believe the rebound in November was related to Hurricane Sandy recovery.

Consumer Sentiment - Feb. 15, 9:55aET *Consensus: [73, 77]*

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Bringing up the rear is the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday. The monthly data since July of 2012 is shown above. This number is closely watched by market participants and will be reporting for the first half of February. Sentiment ticked up in January to 73.8 and a strong follow through in the first reading for February would please markets. This is another statistic that could be affected by the recent tax increases. Although sentiment has decreased since October, the numbers remain at elevated levels when looking back several years.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.