Markets

Jobless claims top quiet agenda

Initial jobless claims are the main item on today's calendar.

Economists forecast that 285,000 Americans sought unemployment benefits for the first time last week, up slightly from 282,000 in the previous period. The numbers come out at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The trade balance for February, due at the same time, is expected to show a deficit of $42 billion, compared with $41.8 billion in January. It will probably have little impact on sentiment.

Factory orders, also for February, follow at 10 a.m. ET. Economists anticipate a contraction of 0.5 percent, compared with a drop of 0.2 percent one month earlier.

CarMax also reports earnings before the opening bell.

Markets are closed tomorrow for Good Friday, but the Labor Department will nonetheless release non-farm payrolls for March at 8:30 a.m. Economists are looking for job growth to slow to 250,000 from 295,000 and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 5.5 percent.

Next week's calendar is relatively quiet, starting with the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index on Monday.

Nothing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Wednesday brings mortgage applications, crude-oil inventories and minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting. Family Dollar and Rite Aid announce quarterly results before the opening bell, followed in the afternoon by Alcoa and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Thursday's agenda includes retailer same-store sales, initial jobless claims and natural-gas inventories. Constellation Brands and Walgreen Boots report in the morning.

The week concludes with export and import prices Friday.

The following week is more active, with corporate earnings getting underway and the European Central Bank issuing a monetary policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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