This week's economic schedule is relatively light, but earnings season swings into high gear.
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While the economic schedule is relatively light this week, especially in the early going, earnings season swings into high gear. The full listing of earnings below illustrates just how active a week it's going to be. This week, we wanted to make sure you noticed our sponsor, Geopolitical Factor, and their new page covering the FIFA World Cup 2010, which kicks off in South Africa in June. Geopolitical Factor's latest resource will offer whatever videos are authorized by FIFA for release and also those prepared by enthusiastic nationals highlighting qualifying game goals etc. Also, look for all the latest information on preparation for the games, linked to below via the banner.
Monday was the first day of trading since the market-moving news of the SEC's charge against Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS). Thanks to a positive economic report, the Dow gained 0.7% to start this week.
The only economic report on the typically data-short Monday was Leading Indicators for March. Leading Indicators increased by 1.4% in March, versus the economists' consensus for a 1.1% gain. March also came in stronger than February, which saw the LEI move 0.4% higher. The LEI has been rising steadily for a year now, and this latest reading offered the first labor market positives to date, which was especially enthusing.
EU and IMF officials were scheduled to reach Athens Monday to discuss details of their aid package for Greece, but the meeting has been pushed forward indefinitely due to the volcanic disruption to flights. Meanwhile, energy ministers at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Algeria are discussing proposals geared to lift prices.
In Washington, a two-day meeting of major economic nations on the topic of climate change concluded Monday. Fed Chief Bernanke gave testimony Monday on the lessons of the failure of Lehman Brothers. Fed Governor Duke also spoke on the topic of economic development.
Tuesday produces another quiet economic day, with just the ICSC Weekly Same-Store Sales data due in the premarket. Last week's sales data covering the period ended April 10 showed a weekly sales gain of just 0.1%, given the comparison against the pre-Easter period. Sales still improved 4.0% against the prior year's depressed levels.
At 11:00 AM, Treasury Secretary Geithner joins Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.
In corporate news activity, Magna Entertainment seeks bankruptcy court approval to exit Chapter 11. U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) and Citigroup (NYSE: C) have shareholder meetings scheduled, while J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) will host an analysts' meeting.
Another slow economic data day ensues Wednesday, as only the regular weekly reports are due for release. Expect the latest mortgage activity data from the Mortgage Bankers Association in the premarket. Last week's release covering the period ended April 9, produced a second consecutive decline in the Market Composite Index. This time, mortgage rates declined and mortgage activity still dropped. The Market Composite Index fell 9.6%, with the Purchase Index slipping 10.5% and Refinance Index falling 9.0%. Contracted fixed rate mortgage rates for 15-year and 30-year mortgages fell to 4.45% (from 4.54%) and 5.17% (from 5.31%), respectively. The killer of mortgage activity was a hike in FHA mortgage insurance premiums.
At 10:30, look for the regular EIA Petroleum Status Report. Last week's release covering the period ended April 9, showed crude oil inventory decreased by 2.2 million barrels. Gasoline stocks fell by 1.1 million barrels, but both commodities held inventory levels above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
Several IPOs are scheduled to price on Wednesday, though these events are always tentatively scheduled. If any disruptive factor comes to play in the markets, you can expect the start date to be altered. The names due include Alimera Sciences (Nasdaq: ALIM), Excel Trust (NYSE: EXL) and Codexis (Nasdaq: CDXS).
It's Earth Day, and the NYSE Euronext Green Summit kicks off in New York City (NYSE: NYX).
Last week's Weekly Jobless Claims data surprised many, but not your favorite Greek. You will recall that we were the resource that said major media's attribution of an increase of new filers to Easter was in error. We said that it would likely be proven so in the weeks ahead, and last week's data offered an even higher number than the week before. At 484K new claims filers, this latest labor market data frightened many toward reality. Recovery will be slow going for as long as unemployment remains stubbornly anchored. Economists are forecasting a reading of 460k this week, and the hiring of census workers must come to play positively sometime soon, so we will not argue too aggressively.
At 8:30, look for March's Producer Price Index (PPI). Consumer prices were tame when reported last week, but this data could play a different tune as higher commodity prices are seen pushing the Headline PPI up by 0.4%. Core PPI, which excludes food and energy prices, is forecast for a 0.1% gain.
One major publisher, whose pages we favor, has written that Existing and New Home Sales are due for a boost due to the April deadline for the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. While this may be so, we are not looking for that boost just yet. The "sales" data, after all, reflects the closure of home sales, and the April deadline is for entry into contract. Homebuyers will have another two months to close on homes in order to qualify for the credit, and so look for the "sales" boost over that span. Pending Sales, though, should show impact now.
Existing Home Sales are due for March at 10:00 AM. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the annual pace of sales will run around 5.25 million (5.3 million by Barrons), up from 5.02 million in February.
The FHFA is due to report its House Price Index at 10:00 AM. This data for the month of February has no forecast figure, but January's data showed a 0.6% seasonally adjusted monthly price decline. Prices were 3.3% lower when comparing against the prior year period. Prices took a double-dip after recovering a bit in the fall.
The EIA reports on Natural Gas Inventory at its usual 10:30 a.m. time. Data for the period ended April 9 showed a net increase of 87 Bcf. We are in a seasonal building period now, and so stocks, currently 246 Bcf above the five-year average for this time of year, should hold there.
March Durable Goods Orders are due in the premarket Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate orders will have grown 0.4% in March. Barrons holds consensus at +0.2%. This is a volatile economic data point, and so wide variation from forecast is completely possible, and could shake up markets Friday morning. February's orders gained a revised 0.9%.
New Home Sales have been anemic forever, so excitement may ensue if March sales come in as expected. Economists are forecasting an increase in the annual pace of sales to 330K, versus the 308K rate seen in February. Try to temper your enthusiasm though, as February marked a record low sales pace. Remember, I do not expect the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit plays a role here yet.
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