“Last Week and This Week in Economics”—an excerpt from today’s Sevens Report: everything you need to know about the markets in your inbox by 7am, in 7 minutes or less.
Economic data was sparse again last week, but what data did come beat expectations (although it didn’t do a lot to bridge the gap between survey-based indicators and hard economic data). Still, the numbers did continue to be enough to offset growing Washington noise.
Consumer confidence was the highlight of the week, and it blew away expectations. The number rose to the highest level since summer 2001, coming in at 125.6 vs. (E) 113.8. While a strong number, that is another sentiment survey, and these soaring sentiment surveys need to start reflecting in the hard data starting in Q2 (remember, Q1 GDP is still expected to be around 1%).
The other notable number last week was Pending Home Sales, which also beat estimates, rising 5.5% vs. (E) 2.5%. The biggest takeaway from the March housing data is that it appears higher mortgage rates are not hurting the residential housing market, and that’s an important but underappreciated tailwind on the economy, generally speaking. Going forward, a stable housing market remains critical if there’s any hope to seeing a material economic acceleration.
Bottom line, the last two weeks have been light on economic data, but what numbers we’ve got have generally been good, and as a broad statement the economic data has continued to offset lack of progress in Washington… but that trend will be put to the test this week.
After two quiet weeks of economic releases, we more than make up for it this week, as the three most-important economic releases of the month all come over the next five days. From a broader context standpoint, with Washington stuck in neutral and hopes of big tax reform fading, economic data needs to stay firm to support stocks. If the data disappoints this week, don’t be surprised if we test last week’s lows.
The most important release this week is Friday’s jobs report. We will do our typical “Jobs Report Preview” later this week, but again it’s important this number is Goldilocks, in that it’s strong enough to support the market, but not so strong that it makes a May rate hike more likely.
The next most-important release this week is the global manufacturing PMIs (out today). The European and Asian numbers have already been released, and focus now turns to the March ISM Manufacturing PMI at 10 a.m. today. This number is taking on a bit more significance due to the disappointment of the flash manufacturing PMI of two weeks ago. It hit a surprise six-month low, so markets will want to see the ISM Manufacturing PMI refute that reading.
The manufacturing PMI is followed by the global manufacturing PMIs out Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Those reports will again potentially confirm the uptick in global growth, and especially in Europe, where numbers have been strong lately. Domestically, it’s the same story. Economic data needs to support this market in the face of disappointment from Washington. Failure to do that puts this rally at risk.
The only other notable event this week will be the ECB minutes. If the minutes read hawkish, that could put a temporary headwind on HEDJ and long Europe positions. But a dip will likely be a buying opportunity in HEDJ.
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