Market commentary: The big US data week

With the earnings season essentially over and the latest news from the Federal Reserve been already digested by the markets after last week Yellen’s congressional testimony, investors would most likely focus on a several economic data being released this week.

Last week the major economic news was the revision of the number for the US GDP, which expansion was ticked down to 2.1% from an initial growth of 2.6%. Although at a first glance this could be seen as a negative release, by taking a closer look at the numbers one could notice that the down revision was mainly caused by a sizable decrease in inventories, which is somewhat mitigating the negative impact of the news itself.

In other terms, despite growing at a slower rate than anticipated, the US economy seems still on track to deliver satisfactory expansion with businesses going to initiate new purchases rather than utilize built up inventories.  This week investors will be able to assess the data related to both the Trade Balance and the Manufacture activities that will contribute to better interpret the single GDP revision announced last week.

The major number at which everyone will be looking this week is the February’s Non-Farm Payroll data due on Friday that will be material in understanding where the labor market stands and whether the positive trend is keeping up its momentum.

In this respect, last Thursday the Labor Department stated that weekly Jobless claims have actually rose by 31,000 to a seasonal adjusted 313,000, therefore the Friday report will shade some light on whether the recent softness in data was a onetime occurrence or whether it is building up into a trend able to support who, within the Federal Reserve, still believes that an interest rate hike is premature.

Another very important figure markets will be closely watching is wage growth, in virtue of the Federal Reserve inclination to link any interest rates hike to an improvement of this indicator.

In December we saw an unexpected decline, which was then offset by a much better 0.5% growth in January, therefore investors will try to understand whether the January’s growth was a one-off thing, dictated by minimum wage’s increases in some states and large companies, or if it is indeed a new trend in the economy.

Yellen and many economists reiterated that wage grow is going to be the main indicator to assess labor market and economy’s improvements that would finally justify a rise in the benchmark interest rate, and so a positive trend in this data will go a long way to an interest rise on the next FED’s meeting agenda.

Another economic data that investors will be likely to pay attention this week is the February’s Auto Sales number, because the auto industry is often perceived as a proxy for consumer spending trends and it does directly contribute to the GDP calculation. Another strong number in this indicator would definitely help to confirm that economy is on track to full recovery and that the benefits of lower oil prices are slowly making their way into the real economy.

With all the economic data releases due this week, equities near their all-time highs and the market volatility at a rather low levels, the week may be poised to record sizable movements within the market in case investors find themselves disappointed and decide to take some profit form the table.

This article was issued by Paolo Zonno Trader/Analyst at Calamatta Cuschieri. For more information visit, www.cc.com.mt . The information, view and opinions provided in this article is being provided solely for educational and informational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice, advice concerning particular investments or investment decisions, or tax or legal advice. Calamatta Cuschieri & Co. Ltd has not verified and consequently neither warrants the accuracy nor the veracity of any information, views or opinions appearing on this website.

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