Five Things We're Watching: March 4, 2011
Talking jobs with the maestro, welcoming 'Melo to MSG and cheering the ad dollars. Here's some of what we’re watching—and that you should be watching as well.
Desperately Seeking Jobs: This has gotta be the month, right? The strong data, including 368,000 weekly jobless claims number, point toward a big month of job recovery. But we've seen this movie before. As our Steve Liesman continues to remind: For the past four months, the jobs number has undershot the estimate by a combined 171,000. February expectations orbit around a cumulative gain of 200,000 jobs. But, with the potential of a surprise in either direction, a January revision and the wildcard of winter weather, markets are fully focused on the 8:30am ET report.
Squawking with the Maestro: Yeah, yeah. We know some people blame him for the financial crisis. But who isn't to blame for the crisis? It's a long list. Isn't everyone to blame—you, me, everyone with a crazy mortgage? Well, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan joins Squawk Box this Jobs Friday morning, and we're rationally exuberant to hear what he has to say about the direction of the economy and the future of Fed policy.
The Bulls Are Back: As oil prices receded Thursday, equities were off to the races, closing the day with major gains across indices. Stocks have almost recovered to the highs they achieved before violence erupted in Libya over President's Day Weekend: the S&P 500 off only 13 points from that level. If the jobs number is better than expected, the bulls will have plenty of ammunition to close the week at highs. But, would that sign of a strengthening economy, paired with oil-producing nation unrest du jour, send crude spiking again? As it stands, higher oil looks to be the only silver bullet for bears.
The Carmelo Trade: The electric atmosphere at the Garden since the acquisition of hasn't just renewed hope for Knicks fans, but also MSG shareholders. Analysts point to the company's financial health and rental revenue at its various properties as reasons for optimism ahead of Madison Square Garden's Friday morning earnings release. But, the big story remains 'Melo, who's translated into more revenue in the arena and more eyeballs for the tv network. Good enough for BofA-Merrill Lynch to slap a buy rating on stock earlier this week…maybe not good enough to get the Knicks past the Heat or Celtics come playoff time. The street is looking for MSG to report earnings per share of 45 cents.
Mad Men Still Smiling?:WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell is no Don Draper, but he is still our favorite "Mad Man" and we can't wait to see the ad giant's earnings before the bell. With a rebounding economy, shares of WPP have been red hot over the past few months, up more than 20 percent since the end of November. We'll be looking at the number and closely watching WPP's guidance for the rest of 2011 (…after all, more ad dollars are good for a humble media company like ours).