Saturday, March 3, 2012

Week Ahead: Jobs

(I'm travelling in East Asia through mid-March, so my filing schedule has become irregular as a result of timezone differences with New York.)

The week ahead is all jobs all the time (almost), with international trade being the only major not playing into the  employment theme.

The employment report happens Friday at 8:30 a.m., but as always, there are previews leading up to it that can help traders get the jump on the official figures (or not, if the previews are wrong, and not, since everyone sees the previews at the same time, giving no one an edge).

The Challenger, Gray & Christmas job-cut report kicks off jobs week  on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. Eastern. It tracks layoffs.

Forty-five minutes later, at 8:15 a.m., the payroll processing company ADP puts out an employment report based on -- no surprise -- payrolls. The ADP report generally gives a fairly good preview of what the official report will look like, but without the detail.

The weekly jobless claims report will be released on Thursday at 8:30 a.m., giving a look at initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits.I think of it as report on future unemployment, rather than the trailing joblessness tracked in the monthly report.

Finally, the -- the job search website -- releases its report on online job demand shortly before the government's monthly report is released.

And the monthly report happens on Friday, at 8:30 a.m., including both the headline unemployment number (how many job-seekers have not yet succeeded in their quest) and the employment figures (how many jobs are people competing for).

The monthly report is a trailing indicator. It tells us where we were in February. And the hiring or the letting go of workers is the final step in the process of economic adjustment. Prospective sales and orders are what drives jobs.

The major non-jobs report, international trade, is also out at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Its headline number is the trade deficit -- how much more are we buying abroad than we're selling. This report is a mercantilist's dream.

Other reports of some interest,

Monday: Factory orders and the Institute of Supply Managements non-manufacturing index, both at 10 a.m.

Wednesday: Productivity and costs at 8:30 a.m., and petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m.

By my rules, as of Monday I can trade April calendar and vertical spreads, and June single options and straddles. Of course, shares are good at any time.

Good trading!

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