Week Ahead – Jobs & Manufacturing Data Could Shake Things Up
The week ahead offers a slew of important manufacturing and jobs data capable of shaking things up for stocks. The first quarter produced stellar stock gains, with the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY), SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSE: DIA) and the PowerShares QQQ (Nasdaq: QQQ) gaining 10.5%, 11.9% and 6.1%, respectively, after adjustment for dividends (total return). The second quarter starts this week, but after the S&P 500 marked a historical high on the last day of Q1, it may have some reconciling to do against softening economic data moving forward.
Some markets, including in Germany and Italy, will not even open for Easter Monday. In the U.S., the first week of the month and the second quarter kicks off with a heavy economic data load. Three major data points find the morning market, with the PMI Manufacturing Report, ISM Manufacturing Index and Construction Spending data all due.
The Markit Economics PMI Manufacturing Index leads off with its 8:58 AM ET reporting. Last month, the data for February showed the index at 54.3 at its final reading. It slipped significantly through the month though, dropping from its initial “Flash” reading of 55.2. In January, the index closed out at 55.8. All indications are that manufacturing activity tailed off. There’s no consensus estimate for March, but these indications are not good.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index will follow at 10:00 AM ET. This widely followed manufacturing measure is seen by economists slipping slightly in March to 54.0, down from 54.2 in February. The range of economists’ views extends from 51.6 to 55.0, so it’s leaning to the downside. If we get two poor manufacturing data points, stocks could slip Monday. Manufacturing has been a linchpin of this economy, and if it is pulled out from under us, it will join recently softer housing data in weakening support for stocks.
Construction Spending data is due at 10:00 as well. After a 2.1% spending dip in January, economists expect February spending rose 1.1%. Between the three of these data points, the market should have filled its pallet for one day.
More manufacturing and other goods producer information reaches the wire Tuesday, with Factory Orders being reported for the month of February. It’s just one week since the Durable Goods Report showed pretty soft data excluding transportation orders. For Factory Orders, economists see a 2.9% increase in this figure, compared to last month’s 2.0% decline.
Monthly motor vehicle sales will be reported on Tuesday instead of Monday, due to the holiday. The news from Ford (NYSE: F), General Motors (NYSE: GM), Chrysler (owned mostly by Fiat (OTC: FIATY)), and Toyota (NYSE: TM) fits nicely with the other manufacturing reports set for release through the first two days of the week. In aggregate, domestic motor vehicle sales are expected to have run at an annual pace of 12.1 million in March, the same as in February. Total vehicle sales by American producers are expected to be running at a pace of 15.4 million now, the same as the month before.
Richmond Fed Bank President Jeffrey Lacker and the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans are scheduled to speak on monetary policy Tuesday. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will address global poverty. President Obama is meeting with the Prime Minister of Singapore at the White House.
Tuesday also offers the regular retail same-store sales data. Last week, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) showed week-to-week sales decreased 1.7%. On a year-to-year basis, sales were marked up 1.0%. Each measure represented deterioration against the prior week’s rates, but were likely impacted by Easter.
In corporate news, look for investor and analyst days at EnerSys (NYSE: ENS) and Global Brass & Copper (Nasdaq: BRSS). Expect earnings from McCormick (NYSE: MKC), Global Payments (NYSE: GPN), Blonder Tongue Laboratories (NYSE: BDR), BOS Better Online Solutions (Nasdaq: BOSC) and ZaZa Energy (Nasdaq: ZAZA).
The Bank of England (BOE) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) hold monetary policy meetings Wednesday, but the ECB is inactive. San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks on the economy and monetary policy in the U.S. at a Town Hall meeting in Los Angeles.
ADP’s Private Employment Report is set for release in the premarket Wednesday. This first of the week’s monthly employment report parade is expected to show private nonfarm payrolls increased by 205K in March. That would mark deterioration against February’s 246K increase. Remember that ADP’s data point is but an estimate itself of the federal government’s report scheduled for release two days later.
At 10:00 AM ET, look for ISM’s report on the service sector. ISM’s Nonmanufacturing Index is expected to hold steady in March at the 56.0 mark it set in February. Anything above 50 marks economic expansion, so no change is still good news.
We will also get the latest mortgage activity data from the Mortgage Bankers Association in the premarket Wednesday. Last week’s report covering the period ending March 22 showed mortgage applications increased 7.7%. Interest rates fell last week, spurring both purchase and refinance activity.
Look for the EIA’s regular Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 AM ET. Last week’s report covering the week ending March 22 showed crude oil inventory increased by 3.3 million barrels, and remained well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline decreased by 1.6 million barrels but remained in the middle of the average range.
In corporate news, Pandora Media (NYSE: P) is having a fireside chat at the Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) Tech Transformation Summit. The day’s EPS schedule highlights reports from ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG), Monsanto (NYSE: MON), Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI), Harry Winston Diamond (NYSE: DDC) and TEAM Inc. (Nasdaq: TISI).
Two more employment data points find the wire Thursday. First catch the Challenger, Gray & Christmas Job-Cuts Report. There was a bit of a pickup in announced corporate layoffs in February, to 55,356. The March report has no economists’ forecast to peg to. This data is often impacted by large layoff announcements at major companies. The financial sector dominated February’s layoffs, with J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) announcing large cuts. Still, industrial firms, especially defense companies, may take the baton soon. United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) announced 3,000 layoffs in March.
Weekly Initial Jobless Claims is due for report at 8:30. Last week’s report covering the period ending March 23 showed weekly claims increased by 16K to 357K. The four-week moving average for jobless claims increased 2,250 to 343K. If another increase follows, investor concern will heighten.
Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen speaks at the Sabew Spring Conference.
Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index deteriorated for the second straight week last week. The weekly measure of the consumer mood fell by 0.5, to a mark of -34.4. In relative news, last week offered the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which fell significantly. In a report published elsewhere, we said it served as a recession signal.
The EIA’s Natural Gas Report is due Thursday at 10:30 AM. Last week’s report covering the period ending March 22 showed working gas in storage fell by 95 Bcf. Stocks were 642 Bcf less than last year at this time, but still 61 Bcf above the five-year average for this time of year.
The corporate wire has Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN) presenting at the Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) Retail & Restaurant Conference. Hanesbrands (NYSE: HBI) has its April investor meeting. The EPS slate highlights presentations by Franklin Covey (NYSE: FC), Greenbrier Companies (NYSE: GBX), International Speedway (Nasdaq: ISCA), WD-40 (Nasdaq: WDFC) and others.
The Employment Situation Report is due at 8:30 AM ET. The report for March is expected to show nonfarm payrolls increased by 193K, less than February’s 236K. Private nonfarm payrolls are expected to increase by just 200K this month, versus the 246K increase last month. The unemployment rate should hold steady at 7.7% according to economists, but last month, we saw it closer to 11.8%.
Look for the International Trade data at 8:30 AM as well. Economists expect February’s trade gap widened to $44.8 billion from $44.4 billion in January. Exports declined last month versus an increase in import demand.
The Federal Reserve reports on Consumer Credit at 3:00 PM ET. Economists see February’s consumer credit expanding by $15 billion, against January’s expansion of $16.2 billion.
The corporate wire has the BioCentury Publications Future Leaders in Biotech Industry Conference, with highlighted presentations from Cytokinetics (Nasdaq: CYTK), Cytori Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CYTX) and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SCMP).
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