Friday Look Ahead: Jobs Report Could Divide Bears From Economists
The June jobs report Friday could provide more fuel for bears, even as economists hold onto the view that the economy is not double-dipping.
Economists expect a negative headline number on June's non-farm payrolls because of the elimination of temporary government census jobs, but they expect private payrolls to increase by about 110,000, compared to last month's 41,000.
Stocks were lower again Thursday but closed well above the lows of the day, as investors continued to put money into bonds and fretted about more disappointing U.S. economic news. Pending home sales were down 30 percent; jobless claims unexpectedly increased, and the ISM, while still a strong number at 56.2, was below expectations.
Even Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan weighed in on the topic, on "Squawk Box" Thursday. "What we are looking at is an invisible wall in which we have run into here, which essentially as far as I can see is a typical pause that occurs in an economic recovery," said Greenspan.
Both J.P. Morgan and CSFB trimmed second quarter GDP forecasts Thursday, based on recent data, and J.P. Morgan reduced its above consensus expectation for the third quarter to 3 percent from 4 percent. Neither of their forecasts contain anything close to a double dip scenario.
J.P. Morgan's second quarter number was cut to 3.2 percent from 4 percent, and CSFB trimmed its second quarter to 3.8 percent from 4.3 percent. Its second half outlook is 3.2 percent and it has 2.8 percent growth for every quarter next year.
"A lot of the time, the process of moving the economy forward has to do with expectations. We're kind of in a 'show me the money' economy," said Jonathan Basile, an economist with CSFB.
J.P. Morgan economist Michael Feroli, like other economists, concedes the market view is much darker than that of his profession. Many traders in the bond market talk about the idea of a "double dip" as a given, and investors Thursday pushed 10-year and 30-year yields to their lowest levels since April, 2009. The 10-year was at 2.931 percent in the afternoon.
"It's hard to reconcile. The two views are pretty different. I just tell people right now, you
never know what's going to happen in the future, but everything is pretty consistent with decent positive growth," he said.
Citigroup economists Steve Wieting said the deterioration in housing as tax breaks expired is one reason for the gloom about economic reports. "The recovery in housing to its strongest level of the year was only 30 pct of the peak and now it's dropping from that, and it's dragging," he said. "We cut our outlook for the back half of the year in response. It's not going to have the full-blown impact that it did have when housing was a big big part of our economy." He said housing and related industries, including construction and real estate, is now 4 percent of total employment, down from its peak of 7 percent.
Wieting now expects 2.5 percent growth for the second half, again positive, but low growth. "The double dip (possibility) is still low because of the economy's condition," he said.
He too said markets are moving ahead but stocks should be lower based on the sluggish growth outlook. "The problem in all this is financial markets are not just about predicting the future, they are influencing behavior and affecting the ability to borrow and spend," he said. "You've definitely interrupted a positive feed back loop. There's a certain level of confusion now that's going to remain as long as there's this much policy uncertainty. If we're correct, it's not going to be such a challenging environment that we're going to have a full blown downturn," he said.
The concern with the markets' current behavior is if it becomes too extreme, it could put further pressure on the recovery and make the double dip self-fulfillling.
Greenspan too commented on the negative market mood. "Ordinarily we are seeing that the stock markets are being driven by economic events. I think it's more the reverse," Greenspan said.
Besides the 8:30 a.m. jobs report, there are factory orders at 10 a.m.
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