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Today’s Economic Indicators and Observations

+Improving economic results show that the recovery is on firmer footing.

ADP Employment report for November shows a gain of 93K, 23K above expectations, while October was revised higher to 82K from 43K.  The breadth of the gain was improved from the prior months. 

Strong UK PMI and German Retail Sales

Strong China PMI = the economy continues to cruise.

Mortgage Application for purchase inch up 1.1% after that large 14.4% increase and marks a new post-stimulus high. 

ISM Manufacturing gauge comes in at a healthy 56.6 in November from 56.9; Employment sub-index points to additional employment gains in the sector; Supply chains are working as delivery times slowed, however, backlogs continue to contract. 

-Some coals in the stocking as well though:

Challenger Job-Cut report shows a rise in the announced layoffs and is up the highest level since March/April.  While it isn’t cause for alarm just yet, it’s worth keeping an eye on as retailers begin shedding their “holiday workforce”.

The Productivity and Costs report points to employers continuing to squeeze work out of its existing workforce as productivity jumped 2.3% for the 3rd quarter, while labor costs continued to decline, though slightly, down 0.1%.  Overall this helps corporate profits, but at the expense of hiring and inflation (which is what the Fed is desperately attempting to foster).

Strong China PMI may mean more tightening as price gauges are near 2008 highs… with a possible property bubble, the probability of a hard-landing is increasing

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Overall the contradicting economic indicators continue, which is representative of a muddle through economy that is growing, but not at a strong enough pace to bring down the massive labor slack. 

Is the Santa Claus Rally about to begin?  Perhaps, however, I stand by my cautiousness as the name of the game is forecasting what may come in the future, not what’s going on now.  The market has priced this economic improvement already and many headwinds will be getting stronger.

   Housing prices continue to double-dip thus eventually affecting consumption

   Unemployment benefits expiring, affecting consumption as well..will they be extended?

   China applying the breaks via price controls and increasing interest rates

   Eurozone Sovereign debt issues just won’t go away

   State & Local government reigning in spending (see Cisco’s recent earnings report)

   Bush-tax cuts not getting extended…the stakes were raised today by Mitch McConnell