Key economic data out ahead of Thanksgiving

A storm warning in the Northeast and the Thanksgiving holiday promise to make Wednesday a light trading day, but there is key data that could give an inkling of fourth-quarter growth.

Durable goods, personal income and spending and weekly jobless claims are expected at 8:30 a.m. Chicago PMI is at 9:45 a.m., consumer sentiment is at 9:55 a.m. and new and pending home sales are at 10 a.m. There is also oil inventory data.

"You have confirmation or at least insight into business investments and you have insight into consumer activity. Those two elements of durable goods and personal income and spending are very big in shaping the narrative for the fourth quarter. Third quarter was better than expected. Now, what about the fourth quarter?" said Adrian Miller of GMP Securities.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Miller said after the 10 a.m. data, he expects an exodus from trading floors as Wall Street clears out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Markets are closed Thursday, and the stock market closes early on Friday.

Third-quarter GDP was reported to have grown 3.9 percent, instead it declined to 3.2 percent as expected by economists.

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Stocks were mixed to lower Tuesday while bonds rallied. The Dow was off 2 points at 17,814, the S&P 500 was off 2 points at 2,067, while the Nasdaq rose 3 points to 4,758.

Miller said the Treasury market responded to falling yields in Europe on the prospect of European Central Bank easing and also Germany's report a positive albeit small GDP. The bond market also shrugged off the better GDP number and focused instead on a surprise drop in consumer confidence.

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"There were questions about sustainability confirmed by a lackluster confidence number," said Miller. Confidence fell to 88.7 from 94.1 in October and shy of expectations of 96. Miller said it signals the consumer may be able to maintain the same pace as third quarter.

Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities expects personal spending to be up 0.3 percent.

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"With gas prices falling back, it gives consumers a little more purchasing power which seems to be setting up for a pretty solid Christmas season. I would look for something like 2.5 percent (consumer spending) for the quarter."

The 10-year yield Tuesday was at a month low, dipping to 2.21 percent and was at 2.25 percent in late trading. There is a $29 billion seven-year auction Wednesday.