THURSDAY: Economic Data Analysis
Busy, busy day and tomorrow is about to get busier with tomorrow's well-anticipated release of the September jobs report. Several of the reports today are pointing to a really scary and really weird report out tomorrow. Click on the links below to get an ed-u-ma-ca-shun:
So...why do investors care? (Details from Bloomberg Economic Calendar)
WEEKLY JOBLESS CLAIMS -Jobless claims are an easy way to gauge the strength of the job market. The fewer people filing for unemployment benefits, the more have jobs, and that tells investors a great deal about the economy. Nearly every job comes withan income that gives a household spending power. Spending greases the wheels of the economy and keeps itgrowing, so a stronger job market generates a healthier economy.
There's a downside to it, though. Unemployment claims, and therefore the number of job seekers, can fall to such a low level that businesses have a tough time finding new workers. They might have to pay overtime wages to current staff, use higher wages to lure people from other jobs, and in general spend more on labor costs becauseof a shortage of workers. This leads to wage inflation, which is bad news for the stock and bond markets. FederalReserve officials are always on the look-out for inflationary pressures.
By tracking the number of jobless claims, investors can gain a sense of how tight, or how loose, the job market is. If wage inflation looks threatening, it's a good bet that interest rates will rise, bond and stock prices will fall, and the only investors in a good mood will be the ones who tracked jobless claims and adjusted their portfolios to anticipate these events.
CONSTRUCTION SPENDING - Construction spending has a direct bearing on stocks, bonds and commodities because it is a part of the economy that is affected by interest rates, business cash flow and even federal fiscal policy. In a more specific sense, trends in the construction data carry valuable clues for the stocks of home builders and large-scale construction contractors. Commodity prices such as lumber are also very sensitive to housing industry trends.
Businesses only put money into the construction of new factories or offices when they are confident that demand is strong enough to justify the expansion. The same goes for individuals making the investment in a home.
A portion of construction spending is related to government projects such as education buildings as well a highways and streets. While investors are more concerned with private construction spending, the government projects put money in the hands of laborers who then have more money to spend on goods and services.
On a technical note, construction outlays for private residential, private nonresidential, and government are key inputs into three components of GDP--residential investment, nonresidential structures investment, and the structures portion of government expenditures.
CHALLENGER JOB CUTS - The job-cut report is basically a rehash of the weekly jobless claims report but provides additional insight into where layoffs are occurring. There is industry and geographic (states) detail that is not available with weekly jobless claims.
MANUFACTURING PMI - Investors need to keep their fingers on the pulse of the economy because it dictates how various types of investments will perform. By tracking economic data such as the ISM manufacturing index, investors will know what the economic backdrop is for the various markets. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers less rapid growth and is extremely sensitive to whether the economy is growing too quickly and causing potential inflationary pressures.
The ISM manufacturing data give a detailed look at the manufacturing sector, how busy it is and where things are headed. Since the manufacturing sector is a major source of cyclical variability in the economy, this report has a big influence on the markets. More than one of the ISM sub-indexes provide insight on commodity prices and clues regarding the potential for developing inflation. The Federal Reserve keeps a close watch on this report which helps it to determine the direction of interest rates when inflation signals are flashing in these data. As a result, the bond market is highly sensitive to this report.