Friday's Data Points: Chicago PMI, Personal Income

by: optionMONSTER

by Brian McCormick

The big report for the day is likely to be the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will also speak at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Personal Income and Outlays will be reported at 8:30 a.m. ET. Income is expected to rise 0.4 percent while spending is seen growing 0.5 percent. That is somewhat a negative because the ideal scenario would be for income to grow at a faster pace. Income that grows more slowly than spending can be an indication of inflationary pressures crimping discretionary outlays. At the high end income is seen growing 0.5 percent while at the low end spending is seen as rising just 0.1 percent.

The Employment Cost Index will also be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Consensus calls for employment costs to rise by 0.5 percent. Estimates range from a non-inflationary 0.3 percent to a more inflationary 0.6 percent. Sharp rises in costs are seen as a negative for businesses because they can crimp future profit margins.

The Chicago PMI comes out at 9:45 a.m. ET. Most economists expect a drop to 68.5 from the previous month's 70.6. Forecasts range from a bearish 62 to a bullish 73. The prices-paid component of this report will be watched carefully. In the previous month that reading came in at 83.4. A rise above that level would indicate growing inflationary pressures.

The final reading of the University of Michigan/Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index for April will be released at 9:55 a.m. ET. Given that this is only a revision, it may not draw as much attention from traders unless there is a major surprise. Consensus calls for the so-called headline number to come in at 69.9, virtually unchanged from the previous reading of 69.6. Expectations range from a more bearish 68 to a more bullish 71.8 at the high. A reading that breaks either end of the range would likely proved more of a response from the markets.