Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Week Ahead: Two themes

The economic news this week will focus on two themes: 1) Will the Fed try to nip inflation in the bud by clamping down on a growing economic recovery, thereby sending bonds into capital loss territory, and 2) Will the  across-the-board federal budget cuts of the Sequester have begun to slash into job creation.

The first theme is tracked directly by two inflation reports -- the producer price index on Thursday and the consumer price index on Friday, both out at 8:30 a.m. -- and indirectly by retail sales on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and industrial production on Friday at 9:15 a.m.

The second theme is tracked by weekly jobless claims, the first place where damage done by the Sequester will show up, as newly laid off workers claim unemployment benefits. The report is out on 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.

The S&P 500 index, reported continually during market hours.

Average weekly initial jobless claims, at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer expectations, out Friday at 9:55 a.m.

Other reports of interest:

Tuesday: The Treasury budget at 2 p.m., showing the federal budget deficit or, rarely, surplus.

Wednesday: Import and export prices at 8:30 a.m., business inventories at 10 a.m. and petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m.

Friday: The Empire State manufacturing survey of the New York Federal Reserve Bank's district, at 8:30 a.m. and the Treasury's international capital report at 9 a.m., tracking foreign capital flows into and out of the U.S. economy.

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.

Trading calendar

By my rules, I'm trading April options for short vertical spreads, iron condors and butterfly spreads, and the short legs of calendar and diagonal spreads and covered calls, as well as  June options for single calls and puts and the long vertical spreads and the long leg of other spreads. Of course, shares are good at any time.

Good trading!

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