A Good Unemployment Report May Be Good for Stocks Again

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In much of late-2013, investors wanted to see economic reports which showed small growth which was too small to keep the Fed from lifting its quantitative easing measures. Then the markets rallied handily when Ben Bernanke telegraphed that the Federal Reserve would begin tapering the bond buying to $75 billion per month from $85 billion. With all eyes on the coming unemployment and payrolls report, 24/7 Wall St. wanted to preview this report and the other major reports in front of it.

We would also caution readers that the other preliminary readings that will come out ahead of the unemployment report could alter expectations handily by Friday morning. These will be from the ADP Payrolls report, weekly jobless claims, the minutes of the FOMC, and more.

On ADP, this will be release Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Bloomberg has a consensus of 205,000 for the month of December, with a range of 130,000 to 218,000. The prior report from November was 215,000.

The FOMC Minutes will be released at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday. No preview of this is available, but investors and economists will be looking closely for signs of what Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and other Fed members feel about the tapering’s potential impact in unemployment.

On Thursday there will be two less-followed reports – 1) Challenger Job Cuts at 7:30 a.m. and 2) Gallup payrolls at 8:30 a.m.

The more important report on Thursday is the Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report. Bloomberg has the consensus as 331,000 and that would be down from the 339,000 initially reported the prior week.

Friday’s big report is the Labor Department’s Employment Situation Report for December. Bloomberg has estimates of 200,000 in non-Farm Payrolls and 189,000 in private sector  payrolls, and we would point out that both are very much in line with the prior report for November. The unemployment rate is expected to come in flat at 7.0%.

We cannot help but wonder how the market will react to a positive number. The stock market reacted very favorably to the last tapering news, but perhaps that was solely because the tapering was by a small amount. The stock market wants an accommodative Fed at this point, but most market participants agree that it is time to make that accommodation more reasonable rather than extraordinary now that the market bottom was almost five years ago.

We have also created our own bullish and bearish scenarios for each Dow Jones Industrial Average stock for 2014.

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