It’s a busy week for economic news, with data on auto sales, construction, and jobs all likely to offer hints on the strength of the current economic recovery.
The Commerce Department’s personal income data should offer a glimpse at how Americans’ paychecks are faring. Analysts expect that real incomes will have grown a modest 0.4 percent in December, with spending up a bit more over the holiday season.
How are consumers feeling about the economy? The morning release of the Consumer Confidence Index should let us know. In recent months, confidence has been rising, but it’s still not back to pre-financial crisis levels yet.
Also keep an eye out for the the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which should show whether the ongoing slide in housing prices is easing up, as last week’s FHFA data suggested.
Market-watchers are hoping that the release of data on manufacturing, construction, and auto sales will reveal a gradually improving economy.
The consensus is that January light vehicle sales will remain above 10 million on an annualized basis for the fourth straight month. December construction spending is projected to have risen 0.5 percent. And the ISM Manufacturing Index for January will likely show a modest uptick in the factory sector.
Last week’s initial jobless claims came in at 377,000, a little higher than expected, and underscored the fact that the recovery in the labor market has been uneven. This week, markets will once again be watching whether initial claims come in over or under the consensus forecast of 370,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report in the morning should get plenty of attention. Expectations are that the private sector will have added 168,000 jobs in January — fewer than December’s 212,000 — which will likely leave the unemployment rate around 8.5 percent. BLS also is scheduled to revise its survey data for 2011, which will likely push up last year’s job numbers a few notches.
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