By Markos Kaminis
Week of March 31, 2008
Hope springs eternal, and the market will be plenty hopeful this week. Still, Monday marks the end of the first quarter, a period that is expected to show economic contraction. A key report is on tap for Friday, as the Labor Department offers its latest take on the Employment Situation.
The week kicks off with news from the Midwest, when the National Association of Purchasing Managers – Chicago reports on the areaʼs manufacturing condition in March. Considering that the Philly Fed and Empire State Manufacturing Surveys were both measured in negative territory, we would be surprised to find any positive news from the Midwest. Weʼll have a second serving of manufacturing data, when the Institute for Supply Managers reports its manufacturing index on Tuesday. Februaryʼs data measured at 48.3, and we note that figures below 50.0 represent contraction of business activity.
Motor vehicle sales are reported at the beginning of each month, and you can expect an April Foolʼs joke of a report this time around. We here at The Greek will be keen to see this weekʼs ICSC-UBS Same-Store Sales data, considering last weekʼs report showed sales growth slowed to just 1.0%.
Starting Wednesday, the economic community shifts into employment watch, with the regular monthly bombardment of data beginning to arrive. The first news will come from the Challenger Job-Cut Report before the market open. After starting the year mildly, the last two months of data have offered upward of 70K planned firings each. Also on Wednesday, ADP will post its employment report that covers job market changes in the private sector. This data turned negative last month, when 23,000 jobs were noted lost.
Thursday offers the Monster Employment Index, which measures job postings at some 1,500 websites. The data is now considered more important than the Help-Wanted Index, now that everyone gets their news online. The Monster Index decreased slightly last month to 165. Weekly initial jobless claims take a backseat this week to all the other employment data, but offered no comfort last week when reported at 366K. ISMʼs take on the non-manufacturing sector comes Thursday morning, and since the service sector is so important to the American economy, this report carries a lot of weight. Februaryʼs data came in at a still expansionary reading of 50.8.
As the drum rolls, Friday brings the highly anticipated Employment Situation Report. Before the market opens, we will discover if unemployment increased from last monthʼs reporting of 4.8%. Remember, the unemployment rate did not make sense last month, since we lost jobs during the period. The government noted a high degree of individuals leaving the workforce altogether. But, these people did not officially leave the workforce because they retired fat and wealthy. Rather, unemployment benefits ran out for a good number of them. So, this seemingly positive data actually represented rather dire news. How are those people suppose to now pay their mortgages or even eat…
EPS Reports: Monday – H.B. Fuller (NYSE: FUL); Tuesday – Immucor (Nasdaq: BLUD); Wednesday – Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), Micron Technology (NYSE: MU), Monsanto (NYSE: MON); Thursday – Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI), Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ); Friday – Family Dollar (NYSE: FDO) and Mosaic (NYSE: MOS).