Good morning. Good Monday. Good markets. Welcome back to the week ahead on Wall Street and a look at what investors need to know for the next five days.
March was a weird month for the market. We started out riding the wave of the "Trump Bump" before things got derailed. A midmonth blizzard in the East sent things into disarray, and we closed out with a whole lot of uncertainty.
What's an investor to do? Or, more to the point, to watch?
Where the jobs are
The economy is at a crossroads. Are things as good as everyone seems to think, or as ho-hum as the actual data show? A couple economic reports will help discern hope from reality.
Most importantly, of course, we'll see where the job market stands when the monthly payrolls report comes out Friday.
Economists expect to see 177,500 new jobs for March, which would be consistent with the longer-term trend but a step down from the 227,000 in February. Wages also will be watched closely, with the annual trend expected to show a 2.7 percent increase. The unemployment rate is likely to hold steady, according to estimates compiled by FactSet.
Be forewarned: The March numbers could be a little fuzzy because of distortions from the storm. Still, the market will be watching closely.
Not much is at risk except ...
The Trump presidency stakes much of its legitimacy on the ability to get the economy cranking again after a long run of lackluster growth since the Great Recession. There was much ballyhoo after the February numbers came out well ahead of expectations, but a miss this month could halt that momentum.
If expectations for economic growth start to slow, that could take the air out of the stock market, at least in the United States. Those growing predictions for a coming "correction" — which technically is defined as a 10 percent drop in the market — could start to look a little smarter.
Nearly 1 in 3 market pros now think a near-term correction is in the cards, according to last week's Investors Intelligence survey. One respondent to a separate sentiment gauge, the American Association of Individual Investors, had this to say:
"A large correction is very likely in the coming months and is the reason that I am currently neutral over the next six months rather than bullish. Bullish is my current long-term position, however."
There's more economic data out this week that will help paint the picture as well: Manufacturing on Monday, durable goods orders and the trade balance on Tuesday and growth in the nonmanufacturing sector Wednesday.
Also, we'll get a little better look inside the Federal Reserve's collective thinking Wednesday when the central bank releases the minutes from its March 14-15 meeting. As you'll recall, Fed officials hiked rates a quarter point, and the minutes will help give some insight into why they did what they did.
President Donald Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday and Tuesday. Trump already has predicted a "very difficult" meeting, which is almost always a self-fulfilling prophecy. The markets may not like it if things get too testy.
Cowen and Co.
And across the pond, the European Parliament will be debating a resolution on Brexit negotiations Wednesday. The market hasn't reacted much to Brexit talk since a mild implosion last summer when the U.K. vote to leave the European Union actually took place, but it's always worth keeping an eye on.