In yesterday’s lesson we discussed Non Farm Payrolls (NFP’s) and why this is one of the economic indicators that causes the biggest moves in the markets. In today’s lesson we are going to discuss another economic indicator which can create large amounts of market volatility, Retail Sales.
The retail sales number is released at 8:30 am on or around the 13th of each month, and is an estimate of the sales of goods by all retail establishments in the United States. These goods fall into the personal consumption expenditures category, which as we discussed in our lesson on GDP, makes up over 65% of the US Economy. Although the number does not include anywhere near the data that is included in GDP, since this number is released for each month (where GDP is released for each quarter) it is closely watched by the Fed and other market participants as a timelier indicator of what is happening with the consumer.
In addition to the widely reported headline number, the report that is issued along with the retail sales number includes a breakdown of retail sales growth by category. With this in mind the report is not only a good indicator of overall consumer activity, but also for how different parts of the economy such as automobile, restaurant, clothing and electronics sales are fairing. If you are trading the stock of a company which sells products related to one of the categories reported in the retail sales release, then it is obviously important to understand that what happens with the growth of that category is most likely going to have a direct affect on the price of the stock that you are trading.
Like many of the things that we are discussing, the retail sales number is looked at not only for its timely reporting on growth in a large part of the economy, but also for its predictive powers regarding inflation. A healthy economy should show strong retail sales numbers, however if the number grows too quickly then there is a danger that growth in consumer demand will outpace supply growth, causing prices to rise and forcing the Fed to raise interest rates to reign in growth. To predict how the market will react to increases or decreases in the retail sales number, an understanding of where the economy is in the business cycle as we learned in our lessons on the subject is necessary.
If for example we are in a period where inflation is thought to be contained and growth is a worry, then a strong retail sales number should rally the market. If however we are in a high growth period already, then a strong number can cause market sell offs as participants anticipate Fed interest rate increases to reign in growth.
As with every economic indicator we study, remember that markets anticipate, so the market reaction will more times than not have a greater dependence on where the number comes out in regards to the consensus estimates, rather than how strong or weak the reported number is in relation to previous numbers. If the number comes out in line with estimates then at least in theory this should already be priced into the market and therefore market volatility after the number should be contained. If however the number comes in off estimates then you can see dramatic market volatility, the size of which is going to depend on how far the number comes in off estimates and where we are at in the business cycle.
As with all the indicators we are studying you really have to follow the number for several releases to get a feel for what the market is focused on and how it is going to react under different scenarios when the number is released. With this in mind, I will be posting a discussion piece in the comments section of this lesson on InformedTrades.com the day the number is released so we can all discuss and start to get a feel for this in real time. If you would like an email when that discussion begins you can click article tools once logged into the forum and then subscribe to thread and you will receive an email notification when that discussion begins. If you are watching this video on Youtube I have included a link to the lesson in the description section of this page so you can join the discussion there as well.
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00:30 AU- CPI
08:30 GB- GDP
12:30 US- Durable Goods
14:00 US- Pending Homes Sales
14:30 US- Crude
18:00 US- Fed Decision 28-Jul THU
07:55 DE- Employment
12:30 US- Weekly Jobless
23:30 JP- CPI 29-Jul FRI
03:00 JP- Bank of Japan
09:00 EZ- GDP, flash HICP
12:30 US- GDP
14:00 US- final U of Mich
Trading Themes --
The Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday. No rate changes are seen as likely, although a slightly less dovish tone is seen as probable following the rebound in the June Jobs data. The Fed is likely now to try to focus on a longer term view policy after a couple of embarrsassing flip-flops.
BOE member Wheal (hawk) commented that the latest weak UK PMI data will be "very material" for the rate decision next week. The GBP dipped vs. the USD and EUR on the report. the street has priced in a 25bp cut in the Repo rate (now 0.50%) next week.
Fed Funds futures are lousy forecasts of future Fed policy but are an accurate barometer of current market sentiment. Current market odds on one Fed rate hike by year end are running a little above 50-50.
The Democratic Party Convention runs through Thursday this week with Hillary Clinton set to be proclaimed the party candidate for President in the fall. This has become yet another rancorous convention rather than the planned "coronation", after it was revealed that the Party had favored Clinton over Sanders in the primaries.
On Friday, the Bank of Japan meets. Over the weekend, Kuroda partially walked back hawkish comments made last week. He indicated the central bank would be supportive of a fiscal stimulus program. We should get some sort of BOJ commitment for additional monetary stimulus on Friday. It comes as no surprise to me that the expectations for a large fiscal stimulus have been pared back. This seems always to happen in Japan. The chatter now is for a modest JPY 6tn in new spending. This is drastically below the JPY 200tn figure bandided about last week.
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