Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Week Ahead: Jobs, jobs, jobs

A short but momentous week for econ fans

U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Labor Day, but London, Tokyo and Sydney will be open for business.

The momentous part comes on Friday, with the first unemployment numbers after the start of the general election presidential campaign. The employment situation will be reported at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

The value of the unemployment percentage as an economic indicator is open to dispute -- personally I put little store by it -- but its importance as a political topic is beyond question. The AP and other news organizations report it each month as their headline number. They do it because they've always done it, and because they do, voters pay attention.

It's not entirely rational, but there you go.

Ahead of the government's employment release, look for the Challenger job-cut report at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, followed by the ADP employment report, based on payroll figures, at 8:15 a.m. and the leading jobless claims indicator at 8:30 a.m., and the Monster (.com) employment index sometime Friday (no time announced).

Leading indicators out this week:

Average weekly initial jobless claims (mentioned above) will be reported at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The average hourly workweek in manufacturing on Friday, 8:30 a.m., as part of the employment situation report.

Vendor performance  -- the delivery times index -- from the Institute of Supply Management manufacturing survey, out Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Traders should also keep track of 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.

I also like to keep an eye on the Baltic dry index of world shipping, updated daily.

Other reports of interest:

Tuesday: Motor vehicle sales throughout the day, construction spending at 10 a.m.

Wednesday: Productivity and costs at 8:30 a.m.

Thursday: Institute of Supply Management non-manufacturing survey at 10 a.m., petroleum inventories at 11 a.m.

Trading calendar

By my rules, as of Tuesday I can trade September vertical spreads, as well as December single options and straddles. Of course, shares are good at any time.

Good trading!

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