Saturday, July 31, 2010

Markets Now Need Economic Numbers to Improve

Economic reports on jobs, manufacturing and the consumer could be what trips up stocks in the week ahead, deflating some of July's 7 percent gain.  More than 100 of the S&P 500 companies report earnings. Investors may, however, pay more attention to any other measure that casts light on the strength of the economy or the consumer, including Tuesday's important monthly auto sales. The July employment report, released Friday, is the most important economic report.

"We're going to lose that catalyst we had, which was better than expected earnings," said Jefferies managing director Art Hogan. "The problem is we've run out of steam."

"We probably will have more inclination to be concerned about the pace of the economy and will trade off on it," said Hogan. "...If we're shifting our focus to economic data versus earnings, the tendency of that has been to be a negative catalyst rather than a positive catalyst." 

The S&P 500 companies reporting so far have seen quarterly profit increases of 45 percent on average. Of those companies, 75 percent topped earnings estimates and 64 percent beat revenue expectations. A mix of consumer, media, insurers and financial companies dominate the coming week's calendar.
Stocks in the past month have seen an earnings bounce, as they struggled against a patch of weaker economic reports. The market was nearly flat Friday, overcoming an initial sell off after second quarter GDP of 2.4 percent disappointed some investors and sent economists to work adjusting their second half forecasts.

Mark Zandi of Moody's is one of those looking to revise his third quarter GDP forecast, and he may trim it to under 2 percent. "One very big concern was a very large contribution of inventories to Q2 and that sets us up for a soft Q3. That's consistent with the idea the economy is growing but still below trend, and that gets to the employment report of next week," he said.  Zandi expects a decline of 50,000 non farm payrolls for July, including the elimination of 150,000 government census workers. He expects to see private payrolls grow by 100,000. In June, the economy added 41,000 non farm payrolls. 

Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities, expects a decline of 100,000, including a reduction of about 150,000 census workers. He said some consumer driven data in the coming week may show some signs of improvement.  "June was clearly a very soft month for the economy. My sense is July is better. The reports on auto sales are going to be up for the month...The weekly numbers suggest consumers were spending at the mall again," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment