A Long Wait for Clean Data - Ahead of Wall Street
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Investors appear to have written off all recent economic data to account for weather related distortions and Friday's jobs report is likely no different. What this means is that the path of least resistance for stocks will continue to be to the upside. Beyond the U.S., the European Central Bank didn't announce any change in its policy, with the recent improvement in the region's growth and inflation pictures reducing the immediate need for policy easing.
The ADP and service sector ISM surveys are the latest in a long line of recent economic data that shows the U.S. economy losing momentum towards the end of 2013 after a fairly strong third quarter. We recently saw GDP growth estimate for 2013 Q4 revised down and all data for 2014 Q1 has been coming in on the soft side. One would have expected this negative economic turn to have weighed on the stock market, but investors have blamed it all on the weather.
The Fed appears to be in full agreement with this narrative as well, with its Wednesday Beige Book read on the economy leaning heavily on weather to explain the soft patch. Given this, investors likely wouldn't care if the jobs tally tomorrow comes short of expectations. In fact, weather has hardly improved in any meaningful way thus far in March either, though admittedly it is fairly early in the month.
The skies will eventually clear up, but another week or so of
frigid temperatures will mean that we wouldn't get the 'clean'
numbers in April - we will have to wait till the following month
for that. This wait for 'clean' data is slowly morphing into that
by-now familiar second-half turnaround hope that we have been
seeing year after year in this recovery. Investors seem to be
hoping that it will be different this time.
On the earnings front, we got another weak retail sector report this morning, with Costco ( COST ) coming short of expectations. The picture is even grimmer at Staples ( SPLS ) which announced massive store closures as part of a $500 million cost-cutting program in its quarterly. The office supplies retailer reported -7% drop in same-store sales at its brick and mortar locations, as customers continue to move towards mass merchants like Wal-Mart ( WMT ) and Amazon ( AMZN ) for office supplies. Office Depot ( ODP ) is facing similar headwinds. In other reports, Joy Global ( JOY ) also missed expectations on further downslide in backlog.
Director of Research
AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
COSTCO WHOLE CP (COST): Free Stock Analysis Report
JOY GLOBAL INC (JOY): Free Stock Analysis Report
OFFICE DEPOT (ODP): Free Stock Analysis Report
STAPLES INC (SPLS): Free Stock Analysis Report
WAL-MART STORES (WMT): Free Stock Analysis Report
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