Week Ahead: More Bailouts & Job Losses? Or Quiet?
Market activity in the coming week is expected to be extremely light, with little direction expected -- but if the economic data start to hint at a direction, traders who took the week off could end up regretting that move.
It’s the time sandwiched between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, which likely means some volatility amid the light volume. In addition, no major earnings releases are expected, and just a few pieces of economic data. This will come after a Christmas week in which the Dow ended down 0.7% at 8515.55, the S&P 500 was off 1.7% at 872.80 and the Nasdaq Composite went 2.2% lower to 1530.24 over the four trading sessions.
“Probably the most interesting thing is going to be, on New Year’s Eve, the jobless claims” and then ISM on Friday, said Fred Dickson of D.A. Davidson. “For those who are around, which probably won’t be many, they’re going to be looking over their shoulder to get an idea of how to track the economy.”
The weekly jobs release has taken on greater significance in recent months as layoffs continue to plague the economy. Though the monthly employment data from the Department of Labor are more important, the weekly releases have helped investors track the pulse of what’s going on -- and it hasn’t been pretty.
“We had a fairly large list of companies that came to the confessional last week” with earnings warnings and other bad news, Dickson continued, saying that there should be few such releases in the coming week. He said that there might be some year-end tax-loss selling and portfolio rebalancing -- and that he’s watching to see whether some of the “highly oversold stocks” can bounce back.
“It’s post-Christmas trading, and most people are out for the holidays,” Charles Rotblut of Zacks Investment Research said, agreeing that it’s going to be fairly quiet. He noted that looking ahead, there will likely be “a mix between enthusiasm about Obama getting into office and the reality that fourth-quarter earnings aren’t going to be good; 275 companies in the S&P 500 could report year-over-year declines in profits.”
“Despite some of the optimism,” Rotblut noted, “we’re actually seeing seven estimates being cut for every estimate being raised.”
Investors will likely be watching for more news of bailouts by the federal government. GMAC, which is owned 51% by Cerberus Capital management and 49% by General Motors, received clearance from the Fed to become a bank holding company, which would help it get bailout money. GM and Ford stocks rose on the news last Friday.
Answers about whether the bailouts have ended, if there are any more and who they would affect could move the market significantly next week, especially given the dearth of other major news.