US markets are closed Monday for President’s Day.
But there’s plenty of stuff to watch on the economic calendar during this four-day week.
Here’s your Monday Scouting Report:
About all that money everyone’s saving on gas… Tumbling oil prices was supposed to be a mega-stimulus for the America consumer, especially the poorest consumers who are more likely to put away those newfound savings. However, the data suggest spending has been on the disappointing side. In January, retail sales excluding autos and gas climbed by just 0.2%, missing economists’ expectations for 0.4% growth.
“We suspect that there are a number of factors at play that have worked to minimize the impact from lower prices at the pump,” Wells Fargo’s Mark Vitner said. “For starters there is simple arithmetic. While the typical consumer will save between $US500 and $US800 this year from lower gasoline prices, they do not receive a check up front. Instead, the savings accrue gradually as they fill up their tanks from week to week. On a weekly basis, the saving work out to between $US10 and $US15, which is meaningful for lower and middle income households, but not enough to finance a spending spree, particularly right off the bat.”
And then there’s the fact that there’s less driving today then there was back in the day. From Vitner: “Another possible explanation for why lower gasoline prices have not given retail sales a bigger pop is that you have to drive regularly to save much money on gasoline. The slide in the labour force participation rate from 66.4% prior to the recession to 62.9% today means that there are fewer people than there would otherwise be driving to work and back each day or looking for work.”
- Empire State Manufacturing Survey (Tues): Economists estimate the this regional manufacturing index slipped to 8.5 in February from 9.95 in January. “The Empire State index bounced back in January after an unexpected decline in the prior month,” Nomura economists said. “Gains in the orders measures in this report in January provide support for activity in the NY region this month. Possible downside risks include the snowstorm which affected sections of New York late last month and the general slowing in economic momentum recently.”
- NAHB Housing Market Index (Tues): Economists estimate this builder sentiment index climbed to 58 in February from 57 in January. “The labour market continues to improve, likely boosting confidence,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists said. “However, interest rates started to edge higher and weather conditions were exceptionally poor in parts of the country.”
- Housing Starts (Wed): Economists estimate the pace of starts fell 1.7% in January to an annualized rate of 1.07 million. The pace of building permits is estimated to have climbed 1.0% to 1.068 million. “The weakness should primarily be in the single family sector, as starts fall back in line with the pace of permits,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists said. “The weather is unlikely to have a big impact since conditions were close to normal during the month. The heavy snowfall didn’t begin until February, which implies downside risks to construction in February.”
- Producer Price Index (Wed): Economists estimate PPI fell 0.4% month-over-month in January. Excluding food and energy, core PPI is estimated to have climbed by just 0.1%. From Morgan Stanley’s Ted Wieseman: “Wholesale gasoline prices plummeted over 25% over the PPI survey period, and with similar weakness in other petroleum products and also downside in natural gas utility prices after a sharp pullback in natural gas prices the past two months, we look for overall PPI energy to be down a near-record 12%, driving a sharp drop in headline PPI and lowering the year/year rate to 0.1% from 1.1%. For the core — ex food, energy, and trade services — dollar strength, energy price passthrough, and sluggish global growth are likely to keep core goods under pressure, partly offsetting modest upside in services to lead to a small monthly gain and deceleration in the year/year pace to 1.2% from 1.3%.”
- Industrial Production (Wed): Economists estimate industrial production increased by 0.3% in January as capacity utilization climbed to 79.9%. “Positive signs from the market, including a rise in manufacturing employees and steady average weekly hours indicate that production has picked up over the past few weeks,” Wells Fargo’s John Silvia said.
- FOMC Minutes (Wed): The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its Jan. 27-28 Federal Open Market Committee meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET. From Credit Suisse: “It will be interesting to observe whether the committee’s worries had intensified along with the dollar’s gains. We suspect that while foreign developments may have taken a more important position on the Fed’s radar, the FOMC is still working on the assumption that it will initiate a slow, cautious policy normalization process with a rate hike around mid-year. And to the extent the global picture brightens, the path to policy lift-off should become smoother still.”
- Initial Jobless Claims (Thurs): Economists estimate the weekly jobless claims climbed to 290,000 from 304,000 a week ago. “Jobless claims are the most important [data release on Thursday] as they cover the February employment survey week,” Deutsche Bank’s Joe Lavorgna said. “We are preliminarily projecting a 250k increase in February nonfarm payrolls.”
- Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook (Thurs): Economists estimate this activity index jumped to 9.0 in February from 6.3 in January. “The Philly Fed manufacturing index fell over 30 points between November and January,” Nomura economists noted. “Activity appeared to fall in that region to start the year, and the recent declines in energy prices and prospects of weaker global growth may be negatively impacting business sentiment.”
- Markit US Manufacturing PMI (Fri): Economists estimate this manufacturing index slipped to 53.6 in February from 53.9 in January.
Analysts have done almost nothing but cut their forecasts for near-term earnings growth thanks to falling oil prices and a strengthening dollar.
“The Q1 bottom-up EPS estimate (which is an aggregation of the estimates for all the companies in the index) dropped by 7.4% (to $US27.31 from $US29.48) during the first half of the quarter,” FactSet’s John Butters writes. “In fact, this marks the largest percentage decrease in the bottom-up EPS estimate for the S&P 500 for the first half of a quarter since Q2 2009 (-7.5%).”
And yet the stock market remains resilient with the S&P 500 closing at a record high of 2,096 on Friday.
For more insight about the middle market, visit mid-marketpulse.com.
NOW WATCH: Nationwide’s Super Bowl commercial about dead children is about corporate profits … in a way that we can all appreciate
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.