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Last Week in Review
The economic calendar picks up this week beginning with the flash PMI today (9:45 a.m. ET), as we continue to get an initial look at the July data. So far, the data has been a bit underwhelming as both the Empire and Philly Fed surveys came in light last week.
As far as hard data goes, Durable Goods comes out Thursday, and the preliminary second-quarter GDP number comes out Friday.
Housing data also picks up this week, and after last week’s mixed results (remember the Housing Market Index missed but Housing Starts was solid) economists will be looking for a better read on the current status of the real estate market. The two big reports this week are Existing Home Sales on Monday, and New Home Sales on Wednesday. However, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller HPI also will be worth watching (due out Tuesday). If the housing data is more in line with the strong Housing Starts data we saw last week, that will be an underlying positive for the economy and supportive for risk assets near term.
Turning to the central banks, the FOMC meets Tuesday and Wednesday, and the meeting will be concluded with an announcement on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. There are no material changes expected to come from the meeting, and it would be a shock if rates were not left unchanged. There is no press conference or forecasts released with this meeting, but language in the statement will be closely watched for any further clues on the Fed’s plans to reduce the balance sheet, or on when rates will be raised. Right now, expectations are for a December hike, but based on the trend in other central bank rhetoric the risk is for a dovish development due to the complete lack of inflation acceleration.
This Week’s Preview
Economic data was thin last week, but we did get our first look at July data in the form of regional Fed outlook surveys as well as a few reports on the housing markets.
Beginning with the Fed surveys, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey was released on Monday, and despite the bad headline it was not a terrible report. The headline missed estimates (9.8 vs. E: 15.0), but the forward looking New Orders component remained solidly above 13. The reason the report was not that bad was the fact that it had started to run hot at unsustainable level recently, and was due for a dip. And the correction we saw in the June data wasn’t too deep, and the details remained encouraging.
The Philly Fed Survey out on Thursday was not as bad a miss as the Empire data on the headline (19.5 vs. E: 22.0), but the details definitely dimmed the outlook for the Mid-Atlantic manufacturing sector. The forward-looking component of the report, New Orders, fell more than 20 points to just 2.1. The survey Philly data last week finally started to show a decline in enthusiasm from the extremely strong survey reports we’ve seen since the election. If these reports are foreshadowing a pullback in the broader US economy, that would be very bad for stocks, as solid growth is still priced into the market at current levels.
Housing data was mixed last week as the Housing Market Index missed expectations, but Housing Starts and Permits were very solid. Data on the real estate market has been all over the place recently, and it will take more data to try to decipher where the trends actually are in the sector. But if the strong Starts and Permits data from last week are any indication (this is a more material data point than the Housing Market Index) that will be a sign of confidence in the US economy.
Lastly, jobless claims were very solid last week as new claims fell back towards a four-decade low. The very positive weekly report was significant, because the data collected corresponds with the survey week for the July BLS Employment report. So, based on jobless claims alone we can expect another very strong official employment report early next month.
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