Hello friends and Fortune readers.
It’s been a dizzying past two weeks in the markets, full of surprising highs and lows. After that run around, investors will be looking forward to a week of economic data that could help provide a better signal through the noise, especially as it pertains to a near-term interest rate rise. Economic data will culminate with July’s job market report, following on the heels of car sales, construction spending and the Federal Reserve’s “beige book,” which provides anecdotal evidence of regional economies around the U.S. Also up this week, more company earnings trickle in, and the EU considers an interest rate update.
Here’s what you need to know to start the week.
1. Jobs update.
This is an important month for the jobs report, given the Fed’s reliance on the data as it considers an interest rate change. The U.S. has had a string of good jobs reports over the past few months, including three straight months of 200,000-plus job gains. The unemployment rate has held steady at 5.3%, the lowest since April 2008. August is likely to continue those strong gains. Economists expect non-farm payrolls to increase by 220,000 with the unemployment rate dropping to 5.2%. The big question will be how wages are doing since they’ve been slow to bounce back since the Great Recession. Last month it was up 2.1% year-over-year. The Fed would like to see that number closer to 3.5%.
2. More economic data.
There’s also a host of other economic data hitting the news this week. First up on Tuesday, motor vehicle sales will be released, which are forecast to hit 17.3 million, down from 17.5 million in July. Also on Tuesday, the Census department will report construction spending, which is supposed to be up by 0.9% compared to 0.1% in July. Factory orders for August follow on Wednesday and are expected to be up 1% year-over-year, slightly down from July when factory orders increased 1.8% annually.
3. Earnings continue.
Company earnings continue to trickle in, and up this week are discount retailer Dollar Tree (DLTR) and Goldfish cracker-maker Campbell Soup Co. (CPB). On Tuesday, Dollar Tree is expected to report second-quarter profit slightly below the average analyst estimate. The company recently won a bitter battle with rival Dollar General to acquire Family Dollar, making Dollar Tree the top U.S. discount retailer by store count. But, that may end up hurting the company’s bottom line in the short term. Campbell reports its fourth-quarter results on Thursday, and analysts have low expectations. The company has been struggling as consumer tastes shift away from processed foods. Campbell cut its long-term organic sales growth forecast in July and has been reducing costs via job cuts.
4. Europe makes a call on interest rates.
The European Central Bank is scheduled to make its interest rate decision on Thursday and is also expected to cut its inflation forecast, primarily as a result of weak commodity prices and slowing growth in emerging markets. The move signals that the quantitative easing program put in place this year is not yet working as planned. The chief economist for the central bank has indicated that the QE program will likely need to be expanded or accelerated. Though, in good news, economic growth is slowly picking up and lending growth is at its best in two years, indicating that the EU economy may be on the up and up.
5. Regional Fed bankers take to the podium.
The big question looming over investors is when the Fed plans to raise interest rates. Many have speculated that it could happen as soon as September, but given the recent market turmoil many are questioning that timing now. Many will be listening carefully when Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren and Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker speak publicly this week. Rosengren will talk before the Forecasters Club of New York on Tuesday, and Lacker will discuss “The Case Against Further Delay” at the Retail Merchants Association Economic Forecast Breakfast on Friday.
—Reuters contributed to this report.