For a Light Economic Week Ahead, Election and Consumer Sentiment to Dominate News

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The week of November 7 to 11 will be dominated by the presidential election on Tuesday. That will be more important than any single economic reading, and the stock market has now fallen for nine straight days. That long a streak of consecutive drops in the stock market has not occurred since the recession.

Last week’s payrolls report was weaker than expected but still strong enough to justify the Federal Reserve’s ambition to raise interest rates after the election. The Federal Open Market Committee decision only had two dissenting votes to raise rates this last week, but the consensus is for the federal funds rate to be raised to a target range of 0.50% to 0.75% in December.

One key reading next week will be the so-called JOLTS report at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. This is a survey of job openings, layoffs and turnovers, and it comes with a one-month lag. This reading never moves the stock or bond market. What it does is act as a confirmation tool, this time that perhaps the number of job openings is on the decline. As a reminder, hiring data has been weaker in Labor Department data and in reports from regional Fed branches, ADP, ISM and elsewhere.

Friday the 11th will bring the first look at consumer sentiment, which comes from the University of Michigan and is the first real-time report we will have for November. Keep in mind that election stress has been high, and this report’s cut-off date will NOT make it a post-election report. The prior reading was at 87.2, and the Bloomberg consensus estimate now is 87.1 — why does that feel like it is a setup for disappointment?

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Center asks questions to 500 households each month for the sentiment report. While this is far narrower than the Conference Board’s consumer sentiment reading, the reality is that it is a week or more sooner on most reporting months, and it really offers the first real-time look at economic reports for a live month. Consumers are asked about views and opinions of their financial conditions and attitudes about the economy.

Bloomberg gave a synopsis of the recent history in sentiment, as follows:

Consumer sentiment moved sharply lower through October, falling more than 3 points at mid-month then nearly another point at month end to track in the 86 area and a 2-year low. The expectations component was especially weak in October, pointing to weakening confidence in the jobs outlook. Little change is expected for the November flash, at a consensus 87.1, in a report that will offer an important early look at the post-election mood.

On Friday, November 11, the banks will be closed in observance of Veterans Day. The markets will still be open though.

Other reports that will be seen include wholesale trade on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and the EIA Petroleum Status report at 10:30 the same day. Weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday morning at 8:30, but this has been trending marginally higher, even if it is the longest streak of less than 300,000 claims in 46 years.