Small businessmen weighed in on the economy this morning in the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) monthly Small Business Optimism Index. The NFIB data showed improvement, but there’s “no surge in confidence” according to the organization. The index gained 1.9 points in February, rising to 90.8, up from 88.9 in January. Economists expected the index to improve to a mark of 90.1, so expectations were tempered. What helps to put things into perspective is that the index is currently below the troughs of both the 1991 – 1992 and 2001 – 2002 recessions. So in a period of supposed growth, small businessmen feel worse than they did in the depths of previous recessions. Chew on that.
The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported its weekly same-store sales data for the period ending March 9 this morning. The data showed a 0.7% week-to-week sales gain, versus the prior period increased of 0.2%. On a year-to-year basis, sales were up 1.8%, versus the prior week’s measure of 1.8%. Redbook’s year-to-year comparison is due later this morning. Holidays and weather come to play at this time of year and make it hard for a good read, but this latest report is somewhat free of noise and still soft. The year-to-year sales gains are not keeping up with inflation at this point.
At 2:00 PM, investors will want to see the latest Treasury Budget. The February budget usually carries a significant deficit, averaging $159.1 billion over the last 10 years. Economists see a deficit of $205 billion for this February. January’s budget produced a $2.9 billion surplus, though excluding special calendar factors, the data would have shown a $13 billion deficit.
A Senate panel will publicly vet Mary Jo White Tuesday, the nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). New York City’s ban on big drinks goes into effect, and we expect to break the communist measure immediately if possible.
The corporate schedule includes several conferences and corporate events. The Barclays (NYSE: BCS) Healthcare Conference highlights presentations by Actavis (NYSE: ACT), Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A) and Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE: LH). The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer & Retail Conference highlights a presentation by Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT). Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) is holding a technology briefing on Software Defined Networking.
The earnings schedule is headed up by Costco (Nasdaq: COST), Acadia Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ACAD), AcelRx Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ACRX), Amedisys (Nasdaq: AMED), Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI) and China Techfaith Wireless Communications (Nasdaq: CNTF). Also find reports on American DG Energy (Nasdaq: ADGE), Amicus Therapeutics (Nasdaq: FOLD), Athersys (Nasdaq: ATHX), Biospecifics Technologies (Nasdaq: BSTC), Biota Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: BOTA), Bon-Ton Stores (Nasdaq: BONT), Cache (Nasdaq: CACH), CPI Aerostructures (NYSE: CVU), Craft Brew Alliance (Nasdaq: BREW), Crossroads Systems (Nasdaq: CRDS), Dole Food Co. (Nasdaq: DOLE), E-House China Holdings (NYSE: EJ), Engility Holdings (NYSE: EGL), Enzo Biochem (NYSE: ENZ), Evolving Systems (Nasdaq: EVOL), GAIN Capital (Nasdaq: GCAP), Genmark Diagnostics (Nasdaq: GNMK), Geron (Nasdaq: GERN), Global Cash Access (NYSE: GCA), GlobalSCAPE (NYSE: GSB), GSI Group (Nasdaq: GSIG), GSV Capital (Nasdaq: GSVC), Horizon Technology Finance (Nasdaq: HRZN), Inter Parfums (Nasdaq: IPAR), JTH Holding (NYSE: TAX), Kennedy Wilson (NYSE: KW), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: KERX), Kratos Defense & Security (Nasdaq: KTOS), Lakes Entertainment (Nasdaq: LACO), Laredo Petroleum (NYSE: LPI), Limoneira (Nasdaq: LMNR), LMI Aerospace (Nasdaq: LMIA), Majesco Entertainment (Nasdaq: COOL), Miller Energy (Nasdaq: MILL), Nevada Gold & Casinos (NYSE: UWN), OXiGENE (Nasdaq: OXGN), Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: PPHM), RadNet (Nasdaq: RDNT), Raven Industries (Nasdaq: RAVN), Saga Communications (NYSE: SGA), Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores (Nasdaq: SHOS), Stage Stores (NYSE: SSI), Sucampo Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SCMP), Summer Infant (Nasdaq: SUMR), Synergetics (Nasdaq: SURG), Sypris Solutions (Nasdaq: SYPR), Tandy Leather Factory (NYSE: TLF), TICC Capital (Nasdaq: TICC), TransMontaigne Partners (NYSE: TLP), Velti (Nasdaq: VELT), XOMA (Nasdaq: XOMA) and ZELTIQ Aesthetics (Nasdaq: ZLTQ).
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