Friday, December 3, 2010

Economic Data Frozen Until Next Thursday

Today’s data dump of nonfarm payrolls, the ISM non-manufacturing survey and factory orders caps a big week for economic data and since there is an unusually long stretch until the next data points are released ( next Thursday’s jobless claims), this seems like a good time to update my ongoing chart of economic data relative to expectations.

The last time I updated this chart, in late October, I observed, “There has been a noticeable uptick in positive reports since the beginning of September – one that just so happens to coincide with the upturn in stocks.” Today’s nonfarm payrolls report notwithstanding, the pattern of positive surprises has been repeated through November and into the first week of December. While employment continues to be the biggest story, the recent uptrend in the consumer and resurgence in manufacturing mitigates some of the bad news on the labor front and hints at the possibility of a job market that may show signs of improvement soon.

The other big story in this chart is that as bad as housing and the construction market seem, the data has consistently been coming in higher than the lowered consensus expectations.

Finally, it is rare that there is dearth of data in the U.S. for such an extended period of time. Among other things, this lack of new data points means that any investing trends that are currently in place will have little in the way of evidence to undermine their validity during the next week. It also means that the Fed will have little in the way of additional new information in front of them when the FOMC meets on Tuesday, December 14th.

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