Key Economic Figures Out This Week

by: TraderMark

Economic data have not meant much the past three months as generally the theme has been 'QE2 is everything' (until about three weeks ago) and everything else is just minor details. Data the past few months have been better than during the late summer doldrums when fears of an imminent double dip hung over the market. Not better in the sense that we're getting the typical surge off deep recession lows, but better than going back into a recession. (It's all relative.) With a rebound in Chinese economic activity and a seasonally stronger part of the year in the consumption driven domestic economy, I expect data to continue to be stronger through early 2011. After the global push to feed the holiday U.S. consumption machine finishes up - along with a spate of seasonal hiring - it will be interesting to see how the economic figures fare post-February 2011. Even more so if China continues a stronger path of tightening to rein in its inflation issue.

This week is the doozy of each month, with Chinese PMI, U.S. ISM figures and monthly employment data. I have no feel for the ISM figures as some months they have totally been out of line with regional Fed reports. But I suspect the monthly employment estimates will undercount the surge of temporary retail hiring; combined with the nonstop (through recession or not) increase in birth / death model adjustments, we could see a surprise Friday to the upside. (Of course next spring all these employment figures will be revised to their annual benchmark - at which point I expect to see a slew of downward revisions as many of the birth / death model jobs disappear ... well, after the time the market reacts positively to them, of course.)

Thursday is also chain store sales (not an economic report, but of course especially closely watched report for this month). Keep in mind, sales have little to do with profit; if I discount 60% I can sell a lot of Chinese stuff ...

Tuesday - Chicago PMI (9:15 a.m.), Consumer Confidence (10 a.m.)
Tuesday overnight - Chinese PMI [Purchasing Managers Index]
Wednesday - ADP Report (8:30 a.m.), Productivity and Costs (8:30 a.m.), ISM Manufacturing (10 a.m.), Construction Spending (10 a.m.)
Thursday - Weekly Claims (8:30 a.m.), Pending Home Sales (10 a.m.)
Friday- Monthly Employment (8:30 a.m.), ISM Non-Manufacturing (10 a.m.), Factory Orders (10 a.m.)

Key numbers:

ISM manufacturing consensus - 57.0 versus previous 56.9

ISM Non-manufacturing consensus - 55.0 versus previous 54.3

Monthly employment consensus - 168,000 versus previous 151,000 with 9.7% unemployment rate

The high end of the range on the jobs figure by economists is 200,000. Whatever ADP comes in at Wednesday we can usually add 60-90K extra (which usually measures nicely with the birth death model). Hence an ADP figure north of 100K means we could see close to 200K jobs added the way the federal government guestimates. The market won't care if any of it is seasonal as that will be the best figure in a long while. That said, we continue to experience epic drawdowns in labor force participation - the only reason the "official" unemployment rate is not 2%-plus higher. True health would be 250,000-plus type of monthly job figures combined with a return to some sort of normalized labor force participation. But the stock market's bar is far lower than "true health" as we've seen the past 1.5 years.

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