ISM non-manufacturing data, trade deficit and Iran tensions: 3 things to watch for on Tuesday

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, November 21, 2019.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Here's what you need to know about Tuesday before you hit the door.

ISM non-manufacturing index

The Institute for Supply Management will release its economic index for non-manufacturing businesses on Tuesday, giving the market a look at key service industries that have been the drivers of the United States economy in recent months.

The U.S. consumer sector has been key to the economy's steady growth, as measures of manufacturing activity have slowed down amid the trade war with China.

The ISM index is calculated such that readings above 50 represent expansion, and readings below 50 represent contraction. Economists polled by Dow Jones have a consensus estimate of 54.3, which would be an increase from the 53.9 reading for November.

The ISM's manufacturing purchasing managers' index, released on Friday, came in at 47.2. That marked the lowest reading since June 2009.

Trade balance

The Commerce Department will release the trade deficit numbers for November, and economists polled by Dow Jones expect the deficit to be $43.6 billion.

The trade deficit was $42.7 billion in October, the latest month available. That was the lowest reading since 2018.

The decline was driven mainly by declining imports, however, as U.S. exports fell by $400 million. The deficit with China made up most of the total, coming in at $27.8 billion.

The trade deficit with China was a major talking point for President Donald Trump in the early days of his administration. The U.S. and China agreed to phase one of a trade deal last month.

Iran tensions

United States and Iranian leaders continued their aggressive posturing on Monday after the killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani last week.

After Iran's state-run television channel said the country will no longer abide by the limits on its nuclear program that it agreed to in a 2015 deal, President Donald Trump said in a tweet that "Iran will never have a nuclear weapon."

After Trump threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites, in reference to the number of hostages taken by Iran in 1979, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on twitter to "remember the number 290." The tweet appeared to be a reference the number of people who died when an Iran Air plane was shot down by U.S. forces in the 1980s.

Oil prices and major defense stocks opened higher on Monday before reversing later in the day. Both tend to see sustained gains in the months following a crisis event in the Middle East.

Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress are taking steps toward resolutions that would limit Trump's ability to act against Iran, though the measure is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Major events (all times Eastern):

8:30 a.m. U.S. trade deficit

10:00 a.m. Factory orders

10:00 a.m. ISM non-manufacturing index