Econ Edge: The Economic Week

The first week of 2005 is chock full of major economic data.

The most important numbers of the week come on Friday, when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report for December. Many economists will be watching for an improvement in retail hiring, an area that was languishing in November. Wall Street will also get a look at how retailers did during the holiday shopping season when the International Council of Shopping Centers releases a report on sales this Thursday.


Monday, Jan. 3

      November Construction Spending (10 a.m. ET) [expected: +0.5 percent / prior: +0.0 percent] U.S. construction spending fell unexpectedly by 0.4 percent in November, as a cooling in residential construction overpowered a small rise in public spending, the Commerce Department said on Monday.

      December Institute of Supply Managers Index (10 a.m. ET) [expected: 58.5 / prior: 57.8] The Institute for Supply Management said that its main index measuring industrial activity rose to 58.6 in December from 57.8 in November. The December performance was slightly more robust than analysts had anticipated.

Tuesday, Jan. 4

      November Factory Orders (10 a.m. ET) [expected: +0.8 percent / prior: +0.5 percent] U.S. factory orders rose at the fastest rate in four months during November as strong demand for new commercial aircraft pushed business up by 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $377.42 billion, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.

Wednesday, Jan. 5

      December Institute of Supply Managers Services Index (10 a.m. ET) [expected: 61.0 / prior: 61.3] The U.S. Institute for Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index rose to 63.1 in December from 61.3 in November, beating Wall Street's median estimate of 61.0.

      December Auto Sales (5 p.m. ET) [expected: 13.3 million/ prior: 12.9 million] A closely watched measure of consumer spending. Car & Truck purchases account for roughly 25 percent of total retail sales. Companies report individual results over three days. Auto executives say they expect to see U.S. sales increase now that the presidential race is over.

Thursday, Jan. 6

      US Airways Deadline A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday canceled a collective bargaining agreement between US Airways and its machinists union, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings that the airline says will prevent the need for a quick liquidation.

      December Retail Sales Last-minute shoppers gave the nation's retailers a generally solid holiday season, with some apparel retailers and discounters enjoying particularly robust sales. As merchants began reporting their December sales results Thursday star performers included teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and moderate-priced apparel merchants such as Chico's FAS Inc., all of whose sales results surpassed Wall Street projections. The disappointments included Pier 1 Imports Inc. and jeweler Zale Corp.

Friday, Jan. 7 -- Job Day!

      December Jobs Report (8:30 a.m. ET) [expected: 175,000 new jobs and 5.4 percent unemployment / prior: 112,00 new jobs and 5.4 percent unemployment] The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 157,000 new jobs overall in December. The nation's unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent. Despite the fact that December came in below Wall Street economists' forecasts for 175,000 new jobs, it followed upwardly revised totals of 137,000 jobs in November and 312,000 in October. Previously, the government said 112,000 jobs were created in November and 303,000 in October.

      November Consumer Credit (3 p.m. ET) [expected: +$5.8 billion / prior: +$7.7 billion] Consumer credit dropped by $8.7 billion in November from the previous month, marking the largest over-the-month decrease since the Fed began keeping records in 1943. The cutback represented a 5 percent decline at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.