A warmup act for Friday's job number

ADP payroll data Wednesday should warm up the crowd for Friday's jobs report.

"As long as we're around 200,000, I'll be comfortable with a good number for Friday," said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.

The ADP report is not seen as an exact preview for the jobs report but it can give directional hints, and the market watches it for any big surprises. Economists expect to see 215,000 private sector payrolls, down from 237,000 last month. Meanwhile, economists expect 223,000 nonfarm payrolls in the government's employment report Friday, and that is one of the final key pieces of data the Fed will review before it September meeting.


A worker prepares packaged products for shipment at an Amazon Fulfilment Center in Tracy, California.
Robert Galbraith | Reuters
A worker prepares packaged products for shipment at an Amazon Fulfilment Center in Tracy, California.

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But more than the much-anticipated jobs report, markets were buzzing Tuesday about comments from Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. Lockhart said the economy is ready for an increase in short term rates and it would have to deteriorate significantly for it to persuade him not to move.

He said there was a "high bar right now to not acting, speaking for myself." Lockhart is one of the first Fed officials to speak since the Fed met last week, and his comments sent the dollar and bond yields higher.

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"I think that tells you the Fed has momentum to get going in September now," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. "The data have to be extremely weak for them not to alter their course…. Indeed it was as a signal that they're getting very close, unless a jobs report looks like it's fallen off a cliff."

Rupkey said the comment shows the Fed is less data dependent than expected since it appears to have made up its mind to move, and the data would have to be negative to change the course. "The data dependent Fed is less data dependent. The ADP is therefore less important," he said, noting the "sleeper" data will be the trade data Wednesday.

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The Fed had been concerned about exports so Rupkey said he will be watching that. "They're concerned about weakness in exports and manufacturing. Hopefully it will rebound a little bit more and be up a few percent," he said.

Jefferies chief financial economist Ward McCarthy said ADP will be important "only if it varies significantly from expectations because then it will affect expectations for what Friday is going to look like," he said.

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ADP is expected at 8:15 a.m. ET, international trade data is released at 8:30 a.m. ET, and there is also ISM nonmanufacturing data at 10 a.m.

There is also a blast of earnings news, coming from Time Warner, Discovery Communications, Priceline, Chesapeake Energy, Dominion, Kate Spade, Liberty Media, Holly Frontier, Motorola Solutions, Ralph Lauren, SodaStream, Wendy's, Virtu Financial. After the bell reports are expected from Tesla Motors, Fitbit, Keurig Green Mountain, CBS, 21st Century Fox, Weight Watchers, Zulily, and TransOcean.


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