Retail, jobs data to rule stocks' next move

Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:05pm EST
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By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A week packed with data awaits investors eager for fresh clues on when the Federal Reserve will start to trim its stimulus program, as traditionally bullish December kicks off with the S&P 500 poised to mark its best year since 1998.

Traders will also sweep through sales data from retailers after the long Thanksgiving weekend, which kick-starts the holiday shopping season. Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Asia will increase the focus on a standoff pitting China against Japan, South Korea and the United States over air routes over the East China Sea.

Employment numbers will be the highlight as traders second-guess what the data will mean for the Fed and its announced intention to gradually reduce its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases, which have lit a fire under the stock market this year.

The Fed has repeatedly said its stimulus remains data-dependent, leading traders to treat soft data as a bullish market catalyst that guarantees Fed stimulus.

"The whole market is trying to channel the Fed," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

She said volatility is to be expected as the reaction to data is more a "let's interpret how the Fed interprets it" rather than what it means for the economy.

Nonfarm payrolls for November on Friday will cap three days of jobs data that includes ADP's November report on private-sector payrolls on Wednesday and weekly U.S. jobless claims on Thursday.

Economists expect the U.S. economy to have created 185,000 jobs in November, down from 204,000 in October, according to a Reuters survey of economists.   Continued...

Traders work in front of a trading board showing Shutterstock Inc on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid