Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Week Ahead: Incomes, houses and GDP

The good news: U.S. stock traders get Friday off because of the Christian Good Friday holiday.

The bad news: The government doesn't recognize the holiday and will release a major report, and you, as a private trader, will be unable to act on it until Monday.


Moreover, the stock markets close early on Thursday, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

I could go into a diatribe about how the traditions of the American exchanges are so retro that they leave these important institutions unfitted to deal with a globalized 24-7 world, to the detriment of traders trying to rationally manage risk in the face of sudden changes in the economic winds that can blow in from any direction with very little warning.

But I won't.

The Friday report, out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, is personal income and outlays. It tracks how much we made and how much we spent and from it comes the calculation of how much we saved.

The last data set isn't considered to be a leading indicator, but it is a good consumer attitudes indicator. And until consumers are willing to stop saving so much and to shop till they drop, the economic recovery will be speeding along with the alacrity of cold molasses.

Three other major government reports are scheduled.  Durable goods orders on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. tracks activity in big-ticket items of the sort that keep factories busy. New home sales on Tuesday at 10 a.m. is important for the housing sector, although the new homes share of the market is dwarfed by sales of existing homes. The gross domestic product release on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. is the third and final version of the 4th quarter 2012 numbers.

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  consumer sentiment report, at 9:55 a.m. Friday.

Other reports of interest:

Monday: The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank's manufacturing survey of conditions in Texas, at 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday: The S&P Case-Shiller home pricing index, at 9 a.m. This is the one housing report that recognizes that all real estate is local, reporting price for major metro areas. Also, the government's consumer confidence report at 10 a.m.

Wednesday: The Realtors' pending home sales index at 10 a.m., and petroleum inventories at 10:30 a.m.

Thursday: The Chicago purchasing managers index at 9:45 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.


Federal Reserve folk are out in force this week, as is common after a major Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

The headliner is Fed Chairman Bernanke, who takes part in  a panel discussion with the head of the International Monetary Fund at the London School of Economics and Political Science, on Monday at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

Other FOMC members making public appearances are, on Monday, New York Fed Pres. William Dudley, and on Wednesday, Chicago Fed Pres. Charles Evans and Boston Fed Pres Eric Rosengren.

Also makes appearances on Wednesday are two FOMC alternates: Minneapolis Fed Pres. Narayana Kocherlakota and Cleveland Fed Pres Sandra Pianalto.

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  July 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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