There's always the chance some shocker or other will be lobbed out of Washington, but absent that, markets are watching three major reports.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
Big for markets Wednesday could be ADP's payroll report at 8:15 a.m. ET, a warmup to the big government report due out Friday. The big question there is did cold, snowy weather in March muck with the payroll numbers, after a balmy February added a surprising 235,000 jobs. ADP is expected to show 187,000 jobs were created, and if it does show a weather impact, forecasts for the government jobs report Friday could come down.
Economists expect to see 180,000 nonfarm payrolls Friday, and an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.
"The ADP will give us some sense of whether that's likely to happen on Friday," said Jefferies chief financial economist Ward McCarthy. McCarthy already took weather into account, and he expects to see 145,000 nonfarm payrolls in the government's March jobs report.
Services sector health check
The Institute for Supply Management releases its survey on the services, or nonmanufacturing, side of the economy. It is expected to come in at 57, compared to February's 57.6. A reading above 50 shows economic expansion, and that number should show an 87th month of growth and a lot of strength in the service sector. But markets are keeping an eye on the 10 a.m. ET report, just in case, and to see what it says about the underlying strength in the sector when it comes to orders, prices and jobs.
"I do expect some moderation in that number," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst with The Lindsey Group. There's also another read on the services sector — Markit's services PMI at 9:45 a.m. "We are seeing some signs that the postelection increases in confidence are moderating a touch," Boockvar said.
Fed meeting minutes
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point on March 15, and Fed officials have been very vocal since then about their intention on further rate hikes this year. So, traders are watching the Fed's minute meetings more to see if there's any news about what the Fed says about its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
The Fed ballooned its balance sheet during the financial crisis, when it bought mortgages and Treasurys as part of its extraordinary quantitative easing programs. When those securities come to the end of their life, the Fed goes into the market and replaces them. Now that it is beginning to hike interest rates regularly, it is also talking about slowing or stopping those purchases.
On Friday, New York Fed President William Dudley said the Fed could consider tapering back the purchases it makes, as the securities in its portfolio roll down. Market players believe the Fed would ultimately pressure interest rates with that move, since more securities would remain in the market. Dudley suggested raising rates a few times, and then pairing back the purchases. The minutes could show what others had to say.
Besides the big three reports, the Energy Information Administration issues weekly oil and gasoline inventory data at 10:30 a.m. There are a few earnings from and in the morning, and and in the afternoon.
Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo will be interviewed on CNBC at 3 p.m.
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