The lunar Year of the Rabbit enters this week and offers a light load on economic data. That said, we will still hear a lot from regional Fed presidents through the period; OPEC will weigh in on oil; the President and his Administration will address trade goals and International Trade data will be released; and the SEC might finally do something about the rating agencies. Wholesale Inventories and Consumer Sentiment highlight the economic data flow, and earnings from several major food and insurance companies reach the wire.
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Enter "The Year of the Rabbit." The Lunar New Year closes markets across China, Taiwan and Vietnam. While China is closed for business, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be holding a special meeting to discuss a joint request by the US and China to delay a deadline for an appeal on US measures against Chinese tires.
The lone economic release scheduled is the December Consumer Credit Report. Economists expect a monthly expansion of credit of $2 billion, which is better than the $1.4 billion seen November. Though, credit expanded by $7.0 billion in October. The good news is that more of the growth is coming from non-revolving credit (not credit cards but loans), likely due to the gains of the auto industry.
President Obama will address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as he continues in his important crusade to restore the American economy.
You will very likely have interest in developments around Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The should-have-been Time Magazine Man of the Year will face a hearing to determine whether he will be extradited to Sweden to face rape charges there.
The pace of Weekly Same-Store Sales again deteriorated last week, falling 1.0% from the just preceding period. Year-over-year sales increased at a slower rate, rising just 1.6%, compared to the 2.8% pace reported the week before. This next report is due in the premarket Tuesday, and will cover the period ended January 29.
There aren't any other economic reports scheduled Tuesday, but several other important data points will reach the wire. A Congressional committee will hear the Obama Administration's plans for international trade in 2011. Before the market open, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker addresses the economic outlook in a speech at the University of Delaware. At lunch, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart addresses a group in Alabama. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher serves up dessert, giving a speech at 1:30 in Dallas. New York Fed Bank President Brian Sack serves dinner with his speech on implementing the asset purchase program at the Philly Fed Bank at 6:30 PM.
There will be several important Congressional hearings on Wednesday for must-see TV watchers of C-SPAN. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke will update the House Budget Committee on the state of the economy. Also, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on monetary policy and employment. The House Oversight Panel discusses state and municipal debt and related concerns and risks. Finally (and I do mean finally!), the SEC might finally issue its plans for credit-rating agencies. Overseas, the IMF is holding a conference on banking supervision and regulation in Tokyo.
Wednesday brings the regular Mortgage Applications data produced by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Last week's report showed the Market Composite Index of activity increased by 11.3% in the period ended January 28. Weekly play is being impacted by harsh January weather. Under less volatile conditions, a smoothing should occur. The average contracted fixed rate on 30-year mortgages cost 4.81% last week. Look for fresh data in the premarket.
For the week ending January 28, Crude Oil Inventory increased 2.6 million barrels, and sat above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Gasoline stocks increased by 6.2 million barrels and are above the upper limit of the average range. Look for the latest data at 10:30 AM.
Thursday offers a slew economic data points. At 8:30 AM, the Labor Department reports on Weekly Jobless Claims. Claims have varied over recent weeks due to weather impacted processing delays. Last week's data produced a recovery, as claims fell 42K, to 415K (period ended January 29). This week, economists expect claims to stick in the same range, marked at 412K by the consensus.
Before the US markets get going, or at latest in the early going, we should receive the latest monetary policy from the Bank of England (BOE). Also, OPEC will publish its monthly Oil Report. Speaking of energy, the EIA publishes its regular Natural Gas Report at 10:30. Last week's report covering the period ending January 28, showed a net draw of 189 Bcf. Natural gas inventory stood at only 5 Bcf above the five-year average.
At 10:00 AM, look for December Wholesale Inventories. Economists forecast inventories increased 0.8% in December, after falling 0.2% in November. However, in November, Wholesalers' sales increased 1.9%, taking the Inventory-to-Sales ratio to 1.15 (against 1.19 in November 2009).
At 2:00 PM, expect the Treasury Budget for January to show a $60 billion deficit. In December, the Treasury's deficit was a steeper $80 billion.
Friday brings two reports in the morning. At 8:30, look for December's International Trade data. Economists are looking for the deficit to have expanded to -$40.5 billion, versus the -$38.3 billion deficit reported in November.
Just before 10:00 AM, the University of Michigan will report on Consumer Sentiment in conjunction with Reuters. Economists expect the situation to have improved, with sentiment seen rising to 75.0, up from 74.2 at the end of January.
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