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A person dressed as a polar bear leads participants into the water during the Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year’s Day swim at Coney Island. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly


It’s 2016.

And the year is off to a busy start. In the US, the economic calendar is stacked with the releases of monthly manufacturing and labor-market data.

One of the big economic stories continues to be the weakness of the US manufacturing sector, as slowing global growth and the strong US dollar has hindered demand from overseas.

Last week’s terrible Chicago purchasing manager index (PMI) report was followed by Friday’s weak Chinese manufacturing PMI report and South Korea’s disappointing exports report. All confirm the theme of a lackluster global economy.

So as you all get back into work mode, here’s your Monday Scouting Report:

Top Stories

  • The Fed remains in focus. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its December 15 to 16 Federal Open Market Committee Meeting, which is when the Fed hiked rates and ended seven uninterrupted years of near-zero interest-rate policy. From Credit Suisse: “Investors will be interested in the minutes not so much to explain the past but to anticipate the future. The December 16 policy statement noted that the FOMC expects ‘only gradual increases in the federal funds rate.’ Yet the Committee’sdot plot suggests that most participants’ conception of an ‘appropriate’ pace of tightening is still much more aggressive than what the markets conceive of as the most likely pace. Also, the discussion behind the mid-December decision to make the Fed’s overnight reverse RP operations full-allotment, while maintaining individual counterparty caps, could also enhance the markets’ understanding of how the Fed staff and policymakers envision the evolution of this facility.”On Sunday, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer expressed his encouragement that monetary policy tools seem to be working after the rate hike announcement. One statement he made that caught a lot of attention was his remark about asset values. From his prepared remarks: “[I]f asset prices across the economy — that is, taking all financial markets into account — are thought to be excessively high, raising the interest rate may be the appropriate step. Further discussion of this issue will probably bear considerable similarity to the analysis of how to deal with asset bubbles that took place in the United States in the decade starting about two decades ago.”
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NYPD Officer Nydia Rodriguez takes a selfie with members of the US Marine Corps and US Navy during New Year’s celebrations in Times Square. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz


Economic Calendar

  • Markit US Manufacturing PMI (Mon.): Economists estimate this manufacturing index fell to 51.1 in December from 52.8 in November. Here’s Markit’s Chris Williamson: “Although manufacturing only accounts for around one-tenth of the economy, the Manufacturing PMI exhibits a high correlation of 77% with GDP as industrial activity has an important cyclical impact on other parts of the economy. With many sectors such as transport and business services dependent upon the manufacturing economy’s health, the downturn in the survey data sends a warning signal that the US upturn appears to be rapidly losing momentum as we move into 2016.”
  • ISM Manufacturing (Mon.): Economists estimate this manufacturing index climbed to 49.0 in December from 48.6 in November. Here’s BNP Paribas: “Thus far, the average of the regional manufacturing surveys, on an ISM-adjusted basis, suggests that the manufacturing sector remains in contraction. We continue to see headwinds to the manufacturing sector from the oil price shock and the strong dollar.”
  • Construction Spending (Mon.): Economists estimate spending climbed by 0.7% in November. Here’s Morgan Stanley’s Ted Wieseman: “A strong rebound in housing starts in November points to a good gain in home-building activity, and we anticipate the unusually warm weather will also provide a lift to private nonresidential and state and local government spending after a big rise in seasonally adjusted construction jobs in November indicated the mild weather delayed seasonal layoffs. A correction in the smaller federal government category after a 19% spike in October will probably detract somewhat from stronger underlying activity, however.”
  • Auto Sales (Tues.): Analysts estimate the pace of auto sales slipped to an annualized rate of 18.0 million units. Here’s Wells Fargo’s Sam Bullard: “Since bottoming in February 2009 at an annualized 9.04-million unit pace, total motor vehicle sales have consistently increased over the past 7 years, currently standing at a near post-recession high of 18.05-million units. Solid demand, attractive financing, increased incentives and lower gasoline prices have combined to help make 2015 the strongest sales year on record. For December, we project motor vehicle sales will slip 0.6% to a 17.94-million unit pace. If our forecast is realized, motor vehicle sales would have increased 17.39 million units in 2015, a 5.8% increase over 2014’s sales pace.”
  • ADP Employment Change (Wed.): Economists estimate US companies added 194,000 private payrolls in December. Here’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch: “We expect job gains to be driven once again by the services side of the economy, though goods sector hiring should be buoyed by a healthy construction market. In the last six months, ADP private payroll gains have generally outpaced BLS payrolls and our ADP and BLS forecasts assume a continuation of that trend.”
  • Trade Balance (Wed.): Economists estimate the trade deficit widened to $44.00 billion in November from $43.89 billion in October. Here’s Barclays: “We expect the trade balance to narrow modestly, consistent with the advanced November trade release for goods, PCE data from the BEA, port traffic data, and price data for exports and imports. In part, the narrowing of the trade balance owes to a decline in nominal imports, which in turn owes in large part to rapidly falling import prices.”
  • Markit US Services PMI (Wed.): Economists estimate this services index fell to 55.4 in December from 56.1 in November. Here’sMarkit’s Chris Williamson: “Hiring remained encouragingly resilient in the face of the weaker growth trend, pointing to a non-farm payroll increase of 170,000. That’s below the average of 201,000 signaled in the preceding 11 months of the year (and below the official year-to date average of 210,000), but still strong.”
  • ISM Services (Wed.): Economists estimate that this services index improved to 56.0 in December from 55.9 in October. Here’s BNP Paribas: “We expect optimism in the services sector to show resilience, in line with the pace of job gains in the sector. Solid consumer sentiment also lends itself to continued strength in the non-manufacturing sector.”
  • Factory Orders (Wed.): Economists estimate orders fell by 0.2% in November. Here’s Barclays: “The advance report on durable goods revealed that the slump in nondefense aircraft orders was offset by a surge in orders for defense aircraft and motor vehicles. As a result, the durable half of total factory demand was unchanged on the month.”
  • FOMC Minutes (Wed.): The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its December 15 to 16 Federal Open Market Committee meeting at 2 p.m. ET.
  • Initial Jobless Claims (Thurs.): Economists estimate that initial claims climbed to 273,000 from 267,000 a week ago. Here’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch: “Given Christmas was the prior week and New Year’s Day was this week, do not be surprised to see some seasonal volatility in the data, even after the adjustment process. As a result, we recommend looking through any jumps in the series and focusing on the 4-week trend, which should remain at a low, healthy level.”
  • The Jobs Report (Fri.): Economists estimate that US companies added 200,000 nonfarm payrolls in December, driven by a 192,000 gain in private payrolls. The unemployment rate is expected to be flat at 5%. Average hourly earnings are expected to have increased 0.2% month-over-month or 2.8% year-over-year. Here’s Wells Fargo’s Bullard: “Strong nonfarm payroll gains in October and November helped allay concerns regarding the labor market following the late summer hiring slowdown. On the back of favorable secondary employment indicators, including jobless claims, we project nonfarm payrolls to have increased 195,000 in December. If realized, 2.503-million jobs would have been added in 2015, down from the 3.12-million jobs added in 2014, but also marking the strongest two-year payroll gain since 1998-1999. The unemployment rate should break through the 5% level, edging down to 4.9%. A low year-ago base effect should result in a spike to the year-over-year pace of average hourly earnings on the month. Indeed, a trend-like 0.2% monthly gain will result in the year-over-year pace jumping to 2.8%, the strongest reading since June 2009. On balance, we expect the December employment report to continue to show the U.S. labor market progressing toward full employment.”
  • Consumer Credit Balances (Fri.): Economists estimate consumer credit balances increased by $18.25 billion in November. Here’s Credit Suisse: “Nonrevolving credit (mainly auto and student loans) has been accounting for the bulk of consumer credit gains; we estimate it rose by some $17.0bn in November after a $15.8bn rise the previous month. But we are expecting the Federal Reserve to report a larger incremental monthly increase in revolving credit (mainly credit card balances). We estimate revolving credit outstanding rose $4.5bn last month after October’s small $0.2bn gain. Credit card usage always goes up in not-seasonally-adjusted terms during the holiday shopping season. We figure it may have increased in adjusted terms, as well, if shoppers spent a greater proportion of their holiday gift dollars online this year, in which case cash payments are not an option (as they are in brick-and-mortar stores).”

Market Commentary

The stock market hasn’t even opened yet in 2016, and the pros are already rethinking their year-end targets.

RBC’s Jonathan Golub has told clients that his initial year end target for the S&P 500 was a bit too bullish.

“On November 20, we published our 2016 outlook with an S&P 500 price target of 2,300,” said Golub, RBC’s chief equity strategist. “Since that time, WTI has fallen by nearly 10% and bottom-up analyst estimates for 2016 have fallen by 1%. Further, economic trends have softened, with the November ISM at 48.6, well below the 53.7 average of the past 3 years.”

Golub now sees the S&P ending the year at 2,225.

As reported by Business Insider