Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Week Ahead: Money policy forecasts

The week is dominated by a three-ring circus, one of the year's four major money policy meetings, with the announcement supplemented by forecasts and a news conference.

The Federal Open Market Committee meets on Wednesday and, at 2 p.m., will make the policy announcement and release forecasts by the FOMC members. Fed Chairman Bernanke will follow at 2:30 p.m. with a news conference.

With the talk increasingly turning to how the FOMC will respond to the quickening recovery, Wednesday's events will provide plenty to fuel the prognosticators' fires.

The housing sector will also see two major reports: Housing starts on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., and existing home sales on Thursday at 10 a.m.

Also on Thursday at 10 a.m., the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank releases a survey on conditions in the mid-Atlantic states which is sometimes read as an avatar for the country as a whole.

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.

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

Also out, the Conference Board's index of leading indicators. Although itself a trailing indicator, it takes the leading indicator tracked here and combines them into a single index that I find useful in understanding where we are now in the economic cycle.

Other reports of interest:

Monday: The Home Builders' housing market index at 10 a.m. Monday.

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

Thursday: The Purchasing Managers manufacturing index flash release, shortly before 9 a.m.

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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