By Bryan McCormick
The economic calendar is full today, going well beyond the usual roster of weekly retail sales reports. We will also hear from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when he speaks on the debt ceiling and the budget at 2:30 p.m. ET.
At 7:30 a.m. ET, the National Federation of Independent Business's Small Business Optimism Index will be released. There are no forecasts made for this report, but last month't reading came in at 91.2. A reading higher than this would be seen as bullish, while a move lower would be bearish.
At 7:45 a.m. ET, the weekly ICSC/Goldman Store Sales report will be released. There are two parts to the report, the week-over-week and the year-over-year comparisons. Most traders focus on the year-over-year number because it is a better indicator of the longer-term trend.
The last week-over-week change came in at a gain of 0.4 percent. The last year-over-year data came in at 2.5 percent. Stronger-than-expected positive numbers would be seen as bullish, while negative numbers would be bearish.
The Producer Price Index will be reported at 8:30 a.m. ET. Consensus calls for a small gain of just 0.1 percent for the so-called headline number. Excluding food and energy, the index is expected to rise by a larger 0.2 percent.
The headline number is seen falling by -0.5 percent at the low end of the forecast range, reflecting drops in energy and materials. At the high end, an inflationary gain of 1 percent is forecast.
Retail Sales will also be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Including autos, the headline number is expected to come in at -0.4 percent. Expectations for the headline number range from a bearish -1.4 percent to a bullish 0.4 percent. Without autos, sales are expected to come in at 0.3 percent. The range for that sales figure runs from a bearish -0.5 percent to a bullish 0.7 percent.
The weekly Redbook Store Sales will be reported at 8:55 a.m. ET. As with the ICSC-Goldman report, there are two components to watch. One is the more volatile month-over-month change, and the other is the year-over-year number, which shows the broader trend best.
The last month-over-month reading was 1.3 percent. The previous report's year-over-year data came in at 4.2 percent. Negative numbers in either series would be bearish.
Business Inventories comes out at 10 a.m. ET and will be the last release of the morning. Inventories are seen as growing by 0.9 percent. Estimates range from from flat to a larger gain of 1.2 percent.
When inventories and sales drop, it is considered a bearish turn in the overall business climate. A negative reading would therefore be a bearish surprise because no decline in inventories has been forecast.