Now that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has cracked 14,000 and the S&P 500 held over 1,500 to end this past week, investors will be hawking the catalyst to push the benchmark indices to all-time highs. It is notable that there is a sense of disconnect that our country (and the rest of the world for that matter) is “still recovering from the recession” to the point that the Federal Reserve needs to maintain its ongoing $85-billion per month stimulus measures as Washington wrangles over the budget, but the blue chip indices are testing record levels. But…the bulls are in control, plain and simple. Even an increasing unemployment rate in January was cast aside on Friday in favor of revised figures from November and December.
All that aside, the economic data platter this coming week will again be in focus in combination with a full side plate of earnings reports. Whereas the recent week was chock full of data each day, this coming week’s data will be more slight, although some key barometers of the health of the U.S. are on tap. Those include:
Factory Orders for December from the Commerce Department. The dollar amount of new orders for both durable and non-durable goods rose by 1.8 percent in November, following very slight declines in September and October. Economists are anticipating a 2.8 percent increase in Monday’s report.
The Institute for Supply Management’s Non-Manufacturing Index for January. The index helps investors put their finger on the pulse of a variety of industries outside of manufacturing, such as mining, construction, retail trade and agriculture. The index unexpected rose to 56.1 in December and economists are expecting a 55.0 reading for January. Readings above 50 signal expansion in the cumulative industries.
The Labor Department will deliver its weekly report on first-time claims for jobless benefits. After falling to a five-year low in the week prior, initial jobless claims jumped by 38,000 to 368,000 in the week ended January 26. As of the time of this writing, no consensus estimates have been released.
The latest information on the trade deficit during December by the Commerce Department. A surge in imports in November led to a widening of the trade deficit compared to October. The gap widened to a seven-month high of $48.7 billion during the month. Economists are expecting the trade deficit to shrink in December to $45.6 billion.