Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Week Ahead: A grab bag and Bernanke

This is a grab-bag week -- retail, real-estate, inflation, industry --on the economics report calendar, with the added bonus of Fed Chairman Bernanke delivering his semi-annual report to Congress.

The housing market reports will be scrutinized for the first glimmering of a recovery; the retail and industrial for first gleanings of a falter; Bernanke, for the first glittering of new quantitative easing.

The retail sales report kicks off the week on Monday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Tuesday sees inflation -- the consumer price index -- at 8:30 a.m., followed by industrial production at 9:15 a.m.

The real-estate reporting comes in pieces, beginning with the Homebuilders housing market index on Tuesday at 10 a.m., followed on Wednesday by housing starts at 8:30 a.m. and on Thursday by existing home sales at 10 a.m.

The starts and sales are the two major reports, starts because they point to increased confidence in the housing industry that things will get better, and existing-home sales because they point to more confidence and access to credit among the public.

Fed Chairman Bernanke makes two appearances on Capitol Hill, Tuesday and Wednesday, both at 10 a.m., followed on Wednesday by release of the Fed's Beige Book report of conditions in each of the Federal Reserve districts.

Any Bernanke appearance has major potential, and recent spotty weakness in the economy means there will be heightened scrutiny of his statements. But honestly, he has run such an open Fed compared to his predecessors, I don't see him using Congress as a venue to signal changed intentions. He has many ways within his own agency to get the message out.

Leading indicators out this week:

Wednesday: Building permits for new private homes from the housing starts report at 8:30 a.m.

Thursday: Weekly unemployment compensation claims at 8:30 a.m.

Traders should also keep an eye on these financial leading indicators: The M2 money supply, out Thursday at 4:30 p.m. from the Federal Reserve, and two reported continually during market hours: The S&P 500 index and the interest rate spread between 10-year Treasuries and the federal funds rate.

Also on Thursday, at 10 a.m., the Conference Board's index of leading indicators, a compilation of leading indicators issued in the past month. The index is not considered to be a major report, but there are those of us who love it.

Other reports of interest:

Monday: The Empire State manufacturing survey of New York conditions, at 8:30 a.m., and business inventories at 10 a.m.

Tuesday: Treasury's report on international capital flows into and out of the United States at 9 a.m.

Wednesday: Petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m.

Friday, the last trading day before July options expire, is a day with no economic reports. I recommend fasting and meditation.

Trading calendar

By my rules, as of Monday I can trade August vertical and butterfly spreads, the short legs of diagonal spreads, and iron condors, and October single options and straddles. Of course, shares are good at any time.

Good trading!

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