The across-the-board federal spending cuts of the sequester, which kicked in at the end of last week, will by most accounts cost jobs, and the employment situation report out Friday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern will provide the benchmark against which the damage will be measured.
The employment report, and the headline-generating unemployment number, will be foreshadowed by the usual collection of anticipatory reports: The ADP employment report, based on payroll stats, on Wednesday at 8:15 a.m.; and the Challenger job-cut report, tracking layoffs, at 7:30 a.m. and weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m., both on Thursday.
The only major report outside of the jobs suite is international trade, Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Leading indicators (in descending order of importance):
The interest rate spread between 10-year Treasuries and the federal funds rate, reported continually during market hours.
The M2 money supply, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods and materials from the factory orders report, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The S&P 500 index, reported continually during market hours.
Average weekly initial jobless claims, at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Manufacturers' orders for nondefense capital goods, also from the factory orders report, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Other reports of interest:
Tuesday: The Institute of Supply Management non-manufacturing index, at 10 a.m.
Wednesday: Petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m., and the Federal Reserve Beige Book, a survey of economic conditions in the central bank's districts, at 2 p.m.
Thursday: Productivity and costs at 8:30 a.m. In theory, the greater the productivity, the greater the economic growth. In practice, life is more complex.
I also follow the Baltic dry index, released daily, tracking the volume of global maritime shipments of coal, iron ore, grain and other raw materials.
By my rules, I'm trading April options for short vertical spreads and June options for single calls and puts and the long vertical spreads. Of course, shares are good at any time.