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Rise and Shine to a New Year of Trading

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

After witnessing roughly 20% gains or more in 2017’s major indexes, the natural question for investors is: what’s next? Well, this week will take us a good distance into figuring this out in early 2018, ahead of Q4 earnings season and as market participants plot their advances.

Due to the holiday-shortened week, we’re seeing a slightly skewed events calendar: the ADP ADP private sector payroll numbers for December will be released Thursday instead of the usual Wednesday — just one day ahead of the nonfarm payroll figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Expectations for both are positive but not earth-shattering: 189K new private sector jobs are expected from last month, and that number falls to 180K for Friday’s BLS tally. Unemployment is expected to remain 4.1%. All of these figures remain strong for the current economy.

That’s not to say Wednesday will be devoid of relevant economic data; we expect to see ISM Manufacturing results, Construction Spending figures, Auto Sales and Fed minutes during the day tomorrow. (ISM Services numbers aren’t due until Friday.) These numbers will be particularly interesting for the goods producing and industrial investment factors implied, as these were sectors in the economy that have only recently begun to improve from their long-dormant states.

One metric in particular on Friday will be of interest, and that is Average Hourly Earnings. This is another piece of the economic puzzle that has failed to gain along with the rest of the domestic environment, but with an estimate of +0.3% on Friday, this would point to wage growth that would go a long way toward enhancing U.S. GDP. (Q4 GDP, by the way, is estimated at 2.6% — another strong number to join Q3’s final 3.2%; any surprises to the upside here would no doubt be welcome for market bulls going forward.)

Small Business Jobs Growth for December from today’s Paychex survey were down a bit, though moderate wage growth (+3%) still registers as a positive. Included in the Paychex data is a poll on the tax reform law passed at the end of 2017: 80% of small businesses in the U.S. are expected to invest their windfall profits back into their companies, and 65% of those companies expect to increase wages. More good news for the American labor force and U.S. economy in general.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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