This week, the first major economic reports covering November start to arrive, along with more data on earlier months.
Will the recent spurt of better news on the housing sector continue? October new-home sales data should offer an answer. Analysts expect a 1 percent drop in new-home sales, to an annualized 310,000. Then again, the last couple of housing reports, on existing home sales and housing permits, were much better than expected.
Two indicators should give a sense of whether home prices are stabilizing. Analysts expect the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index covering 20 major cities to be flat in September. That counts as an improvement: Prices had fallen every month since May 2010. Also, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s home price index will be released; it is expected to show a 0.1 percent rise.
The Federal Reserve issues the “beige book,” its regular compilation of anecdotal information about the economy. Look for a tone of modest optimism out of the business contacts interviewed by the Fed but also wariness about the fallout from Europe’s debt crisis.
The Institute for Supply Management releases its November index of activity in the manufacturing sector, offering a sense of how output fared as the holiday season approached. Forecasters are expecting a slight pickup in the index, to 51.5 from 50.8.
Auto sales data for November is projected to show that Americans bought cars and light trucks at a 13.4 million annual rate, up a bit from 13.2 million in October.
And in the first report shedding light on holiday sales, the International Council of Shopping Centers plans to release its November sales data for major chain retailers.
It’s jobs day again. The Labor Department reports on November job creation, and analysts are looking for 120,000 net new jobs, up from 80,000 in September. Pay particular attention to revisions to previous months’ numbers — lately they have been showing more solid job growth than first reported. The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at 9 percent.
— Neil Irwin
Andrew Haldane and Vasileios Madouros of the Bank of England argue at VoxEU that the growth of the financial sector in the 2000s didn’t produce any positive economic contribution. And, relatedly, Princeton economist Hyun Song Shin argues in a draft paper that European banks played a crucial role in the too-easy money in the United States before 2007.
Links at washingtonpost.com/mustreads.