By Carlos Guillen
Stocks are having a very encouraging upswing so far into today's trading session mostly driven by a better than expected manufacturing data point here at home, overshadowing the government's shutdown.
Perhaps the most important fundamental bit of economic data out today was the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Purchasing Managers' index (PMI), considered by many to be a very important health indicator of the manufacturing industry here at home. PMI in September clocked in at 56.2 percent, increasing from the 55.7 percent reported for the prior month and landing above the 55.0 percent consensus estimate; the result represented the fourth consecutive month of increases. It is apparent that the main drivers of the higher than expected result came from a recovering U.S. housing market and stronger auto sector. Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported growth in September. Given that a reading below 50 percent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally contracting, this PMI result puts the U.S. manufacturing sector into its fourth month of growth after landing in contraction territory back in May. Also encouraging was that, given that a PMI over 42.2 percent over a period of time generally indicates overall economic expansion, the result also indicates the 52nd consecutive month of overall economy growth.
On a negative note, new orders in the ISM report, considered to be an important leading indicator, showed a rather discouraging pullback. In fact, new Orders decreased to 60.5 percent in September, down from the 63.2 percent posted for the prior month. So while the U.S. is still in slow economic expansion, the sudden decrease in new orders may be indicative of an upcoming deceleration in economic expansion in the short term.
While it is difficult to believe, the U.S. government has gone under shutdown mode, but quite interestingly Wall Street does not seem to be so affected by the action. Perhaps the Street had already been building this into prices for over a week, and now the actual occurrence of the event is a "don't care" case. As it stands, the government has furloughed about 800,000 employees and shuttered offices, parks, and museums. In a statement on its website, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it "will not collect data, issue reports, or respond to public inquiries." The BLS, part of the Labor Department, was scheduled Friday to release its September payrolls report, a key gauge of labor-market health. In essence, no government jobs data will be released this coming Friday. It is difficult to believe that markets will not experience volatility as a result of all this, and with the debt ceiling deadline quickly approaching, it will take some amazing earnings this coming earnings season to offset declines.