Saturday, February 25, 2012

Week Ahead: GDP

This is GDP week -- the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of how we're doing.

GDP is also the slowest measure in the econ reports grab-bag, released three times for the prior quarter with greater precision with each release. Wednesday's GDP report is the second -- the preliminary  -- to cover the 4th quarter of 2011. The advance number, released in January, came in at 2.8%.

Day by day....

Monday - Little of note. The Realtors' release figures on pending home sales at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Tuesday - Durable goods orders for December at 8:30 a.m., the S&P Case-Shiller report on home prices in 20 metro areas at 9 a.m., and consumer confidence at 10 a.m.

Wednesday - GDP at 8:30 a.m. and petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m. Also, it's a big day for the Federal Reserve, as Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers his semi-annual report to Congress, testifying at 10 a.m. before the House Financial Services Committee. He will be followed by the release of the Fed's Beige Book on regional economic and business conditions at 2 p.m.

Thursday - Weekly jobless claims and personal income and outlays, both at 8:30 a.m., and the Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index at 10 a.m. Also, construction spending, also at 10 a.m., and natural gas at 10:30 a.m.

Friday - Zip.

Six Fedsters besides Bernanke are taking to the speaking circuit during the week.

Two members of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy, will be at the podium.

Dallas Fed Pres. Richard Fisher speaks at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. He is one of the Gang of Three FOMC members who dissented during the summer of 2011 in votes on expanding the money supply to encourage economic growth. Fisher once had institutional ties to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s strategic advisory firm, the private bank Brown Brothers Harriman Inc., and his own money management firm.

Philadelphia Fed Pres. Charles Plosser, also a member of the Gang of Three, speaks at noon. His resume shows institutional ties to Chase Manhattan Bank, Eastman Kodak Co., Wyatt Co., ViaHealth Inc., RGS Energy Group Inc. and Chase Manhattan Bank, all in consulting or advisory capacities. He also co-chaired the Shadow Open Market Committee, which second-guessed the Fed’s monetary policy.

Also speaking are three FOMC alternates.

Atlanta Fed Pres. Dennis Lockhart, at 12:30 p.. Thursday. His prior institutional ties are to Citigroup (then called Citicorp/Citibank), Heller Financial and the private equity firm Zephyr Management L.P.

Cleveland Fed Pres. Sandra Pianalto, at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday and 8 a.m. on Thursday. Early in her career she worked for the U.S. House Budget Committee. After that, she worked for the Federal Reserve.

San Francisco Fed Pres John Williams, at 10 p.m. Thursday. He came up through the Fed system.

St. Louis Fed Pres. James Bullard, at 8 p.m. Friday. He also is a child of the Fed.

Williams took office under President Obama; the rest, under President George W. Bush.

By my rules, as of Monday I can trade single options and straddles. Vertical and calendar spreads, and their derivatives, are between trading windows. Of course, shares are good at any time.

Good trading!

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