WEDNESDAY (9/30/2015): Economic Data Analysis
The markets got more reprieve today from biotech, but even happier as today's data from the ADP gave some good indication that the government employment report might turn out a little better than expected on Friday. Click on the links below to read more about today's data on Seeking Alpha...(explainations from Bloomberg Economic Calendar)
So...why do investors care?
ADP National Employment Report - Market players have become accustomed to the excitement on employment Friday and realize the rich detail of the monthly employment situation can help set the tone for the entire month. While economists have certainly improved their nonfarm payroll forecasts over the years, it is not unusual to see surprises on employment Friday. To that end, the new ADP national employment report can help improve the payroll forecast by providing information in advance of the employment report.
The employment statistics also provide insight on wage trends, and wage inflation is high on the list of enemies for the Federal Reserve. Fed officials constantly monitor this data watching for even the smallest signs of potential inflationary pressures, even when economic conditions are soggy. If inflation is under control, it is easier for the Fed to maintain a more accommodative monetary policy. If inflation is a problem, the Fed is limited in providing economic stimulus. The ADP national employment report does not yet have wage information, but their goal is to provide wage information, along with industry and regional information as well.
By tracking jobs, investors can sense the degree of tightness in the job market. If wage inflation threatens, it's a good bet that interest rates will rise; bond and stock prices will fall. No doubt that the only investors in a good mood will be the ones who watched the employment report and adjusted their portfolios to anticipate these events. In contrast, when job growth is slow or negative, then interest rates are likely to decline - boosting up bond and stock prices in the process.
Chicago PMI - Although the report is commonly referred to as the Chicago PMI, the official name of this report is ISM - Chicago. ISM stands for Institute For Supply Management while PMI is shorthand for purchasing managers' index.
Investors should track economic data like the Chicago PMI to understand the economic backdrop for the various markets. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers a moderate growth environment that will not generate inflationary pressures. The Chicago PMI gives a detailed look at the Chicago region's manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors. Many market players, focused on manufacturing, don't realize that non-manufacturing activity is covered in this index. On its own, it can be viewed as a regional indicator of general business activity. Some of the Chicago PMI's sub-indexes also provide insight on commodity prices and other clues on inflation. One should be aware that Market News International releases the monthly report to those with private subscriptions three minutes prior to release to the media. This may account for occasional market activity just prior to public release.
This survey is somewhat local in nature, reflecting overall economic activity in the Chicago area. But many see the Chicago PMI as being representative of the overall economy.
Markets focus on the overall index - the Business Barometer which many refer to as the Chicago PMI. The breakeven point for the index is 50. Readings above 50 indicate positive growth while numbers below 50 indicate contraction. The farther the reading is from 50, the more rapid the pace of growth or decline.