By Carlos Guillen
After a week of many ups and down, this week's trading activity is demonstrating to be off to a rather stable start. Last week, the average daily peak-to-peak swing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was approximately 195 points. In contrasts to that, so far into today's trading session, the Dow has swung a mere 63 points. Perhaps assisting this rather tranquil start to this week's trading activity is that there is virtually no significant economic data being released today. Perhaps it is that investors simply want to wait and see what Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will say tomorrow as she is scheduled for her first semi-annual monetary policy testimony to Congress, and as we look back to history, Ben Bernanke has given the market a boost in the past with his first testimony.
Tomorrow, also of interest will be the Job Opening and Labor Turnover survey, which will explain why payrolls increased so mildly: perhaps it was a drop in gross hiring or a maybe a jump in layoffs, we will see.
Then on Thursday, the Commerce Department will report January retail sales, and so far expectations are that this erratic weather has kept shoppers at home and away from stores. As is stands, economists are forecasting a slight drop of 0.1 percent in total sales and a small 0.1% gain when vehicles are excluded.
On Friday, we will be taking a look at the industrial-production report, which is also expected to have been adversely affected by in the inclement weather we have been struggling with. Despite the weather effects, however, economists do expect total industrial production to have increased 0.3 percent in January, but look for utility output to lead the gain, as households more than likely turned up the thermostat during these days of subfreezing temperatures. So let us sit tight to see how markets react to the upcoming data points.
Oil back to Triple Digits
By David Urani
Oil prices have been relatively quiet in recent months, and that's a good thing because volatile prices are never helpful for consumer and business confidence. But quietly crude futures prices have risen back up into triple digits for the first time this year. That has interestingly occurred despite a broad market plunge which oil seemed to shrug off; notable given that at least some of that market plunge was driven by global economic fears including a slowdown in China.
Certainly it hasn't been an alarming move in crude but it's not something to ignore completely either. After all, for this time of year in February crude futures prices are actually at an all-time high.