Monday: Consumer Credit (3 p.m.)
- The dollar value of consumer installment credit outstanding. Changes in consumer credit indicate the state of consumer finances and portend future spending patterns.
Tuesday: Chain Store Sales (7:45 a.m.), Retail Sales (8:55 a.m.), Pending Home Sales (10 a.m.), FOMC Minutes (2 p.m.), Consumer Confidence (5 p.m.)
- This weekly measure of comparable store sales at major retail chains, published by the International Council of Shopping Centers, is related to the general merchandise portion of retail sales. It accounts for roughly 10 percent of total retail sales.
- The National Association of Realtors developed the pending home sales index as a leading indicator of housing activity. As such, it is a leading indicator of existing home sales, not new home sales. A pending sale is one in which a contract was signed, but not yet closed. It usually takes four to six weeks to close a contracted sale.
- On December 14, 2004, the Federal Open Market Committee announced that they would release the minutes of each meeting with a three week lag. This is a vast improvement from the previous release of the minutes which ranged from a six to eight week lag. While the FOMC releases a statement after each meeting which describes the policy action (or inaction), the minutes generate a lot of attention in the financial markets because they reveal more details on the discussion of the most recent FOMC meeting.
Wednesday: Mortgage Refinancing Index (7 a.m.), Wholesale Trade (10 a.m.)
- The Mortgage Bankers’ Association compiles various mortgage loan indexes. The purchase applications index measures applications at mortgage lenders. This is a leading indicator for single-family home sales and housing construction.
- Wholesale trade measures the dollar value of sales made and inventories held by merchant wholesalers. It is a component of business sales and inventories.
Thursday: Initial Job Claims (8:30 a.m.), Trade Balance (8: 30 a.m.), Business Barometer (10 a.m.)
- New unemployment claims are compiled weekly to show the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time. An increasing (decreasing) trend suggests a deteriorating (improving) labor market. The four-week moving average of new claims smoothes out weekly volatility.
- The international trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports of both tangible goods and services. Imports may act as a drag on domestic growth and they may also increase competitive pressures on domestic producers. Exports boost domestic production.
Friday: Import Prices (8: 30 a.m.), Univ. of Mich. Sentiment Index (10 a.m.)
- Indexes are compiled for the prices of goods that are bought in the United States but produced abroad and the prices of goods sold abroad but produced domestically. These prices indicate inflationary trends in internationally traded products.
- The University of Michigan’s Consumer Survey Center questions 500 households each month on their financial conditions and attitudes about the economy. Consumer sentiment is directly related to the strength of consumer spending. Consumer confidence and consumer sentiment are two ways of talking about consumer attitudes. Among economic reports, consumer sentiment refers to the Michigan survey while consumer confidence refers to The Conference Board’s survey.