At best, there's the weekly initial jobless claims Thursday, which could confirm what some see as part of a recent trend suggesting improvement is near.
The more heavyweight data, however, comes next week with monthly reports on the retail, housing and industrial sectors.
“The key is in things like orders for manufactured goods, home sales, car sales,” says David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities. "Those are going to tell us how close to a bottom we are.”
March retail sales, due out April 14, certainly will be a headline report.
“Retail sales is all important,” says Ram Bhagavatula, managing director at the hedge fund, Combinatorics Capital. “You need to see persistent increases in retail sales.”
Right now, momentum is heading in the right direction. Sales climbed in both January and February after an extraordinary and highly unusual two-quarter contraction in the second half of 2008.
Based on surprisingly strong auto sales data for March, released last week, the consensus for March retail sales has brightened to possibly a third consecutive monthly increase. Excluding autos, sales are expected to rise 0.7 percent, according to Briefing.com’s survey.
“Auto sales are kind of encouraging,” says Brusca, who says it’s still too soon to say which way the headline retail sales number will go. “The consumer is holding up his end of the bargain.”
That may also finally be true of housing. Housing starts and building permit data scheduled for release April 16 may show another increase.
“We may be at the point where builders need to start putting up homes again," says Resler. Though much has been made of the glut in new homes in the past two years, inventory has shrunk sharply and is now near historically normal levels. In addition, “inventory may not be evenly dispersed,” says Resler.