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Welcome to the first full week of the fourth quarter. And if Q4 is going to be anything like the previous three months, investors are in for a wild and volatile ride. The past three months were the worst for the stock market since 2011 and many of the issues facing the economy, such as stocks and the political landscape, haven’t been eliminated. In some cases, they’ve gotten worse based on the previous few weeks’ worth of data.
Luckily, this week will be light on that front. While we’ll see non-manufacturing PMI, Fed minutes and unemployment claims being reported, much of the week is full of “less-than-important” economic data.
The kicker for the week, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned, will be earnings. With Q4 starting, earnings season is also starting. Any continued dour guidance numbers from the several economic bellwethers this week could send stocks into a tailspin as traders continue to look for any reason to sell.
Unfortunately for investors and traders, the break from the economic data won’t happen when they come back from the weekend. Before the opening bell, the Institute for Supply Management will release its ISM non-manufacturing PMI metric. The number is basically a measure of business health minus manufactures. Analysts estimate that the PMI number should come in at 58. That’s a slight decrease from the previously reported number, but still showing a solid expansion period. Any real dip could be cause for concern and market volatility. Also being released today is the Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index, which has a muted effect as it’s made up of already reported data.
Investors will get a break on the earnings front as there are no dividend-related earnings reported on Monday.
Kicking off Tuesday will be trade imbalance data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The measure, which looks at the difference between the value of imported and exported goods during the previous month, is set to show that the U.S. took in more goods than it exported. Estimates for the number are set to come in at $42.2 billion. However, if the metric does come in lower, it could be a bullish sign for the economy as manufacturers will have seen greater demand for their products overseas.
Also being released today is the Investor Business Daily’s TIPP Economic Optimism report. The metric of consumer optimism has been trending lower over the last few readings.
Investors will get their break from economic data on Wednesday. Data is light today, with crude oil inventories the only thing of consequence being reported. As expected, oil prices should help reduce the amount of crude oil in storage. In the meantime, investors may want to pay attention to the Treasury’s monthly 10-year bond auction. Depending on how the markets move, we could see higher demand/lower yields on a flight to safety.
Thursday will once again be D-day for the markets. To start off, unemployment claims will be reported before the bell. The number of individuals who filed for unemployment for the first time last week is expected to drop to just 274,000. The number has the ability to shift the markets either way, depending on what’s reported.
Also having a huge effect on the market will be the released minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting. The detailed record of just what the Fed was thinking about the economic and financial data points that influenced their last vote could be one of the most vital pieces of data reported this week. We could also gain some heavy volatility if the report isn’t great.
After a crazy Thursday, investors will get a much needed break in terms of U.S.-related economic data. The only thing reported Thursday will be import inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The metric is set to show a slight decrease in the prices paid by businesses at -0.5. However, there is some manufacturing data for several members of the European Union being reported on Friday. These could influence the direction of the markets.
Investors also get a much needed break on the earnings front as well. There are no dividend-related earnings to report.
This week is light on economic data. Nonetheless, the Fed minutes and PMI are very important and could severely impact the direction of the markets. Also key this week is the forward guidance issued by the multitude of firms reporting earnings. We have consumer stocks, industrials and basic materials stocks all reporting. With that in mind, outlooks are very important, and again, could ramp up volatility.