MoneyShow's Jim Jubak urges investors to stay prepared as we close out August, just in case more geopolitical events occur over the Labor Day holiday weekend that won't see a market reaction until next Tuesday at the earliest.
August ended on a modestly up note today with the Standard & Poor's 500 closing above 2,000-up 0.33% on the day-on light volume. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange has been below 5 billion shares in each of the last eight trading days. That's the longest stretch with volumes below 5 billion shares in data from Bloomberg that stretches back to 2008.
However, I think you'd be wise to hold onto your hats (or pants, or knickers, or whatever) come Tuesday and the end of the Labor Day holiday in the United States. Not only will everyone on Wall Street be back to work but also the news flow looks extremely heavy.
This week (on Thursday, August 28) the data showed a drop in initial claims for unemployment for the week ended August 23 of 1,000 to 298,000. That very small reduction was enough to push the four-week moving average for initial claims down to 300,000. That's a level that usually indicates a rapid growth in employment. The financial markets will be looking to the Friday, September 5, release of the August jobs report to see if the labor market is indeed as strong as the initial claims number suggests.
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee, the Fed's interest-rate setting body-meets on September 16 and 17. The timing of this meeting-coming after an upward revision to second quarter GDP to 4.2% (from 4.0%) and after the August jobs report-will make it especially important for financial markets trying to figure out when in 2015 the US central bank will start raising interest rates. The September meeting will also see the release of new economic projections by the Fed, which will give the markets a picture of how the Fed sees the economy growing.
Across the pond, the European Central Bank will meet on September 4. The consensus is that the bank won't announce a new program of asset purchases-a Fed-style program of quantitative easing at this meeting-but such an announcement isn't that far off, perhaps as early as the October 2 meeting of the bank's governing council.
A big factor in thinking and timing at the bank is likely to be the course of the conflict in Ukraine and the size of any new sanctions directed at Russia that come out of meetings scheduled for this weekend. The bigger the sanctions the more likely the bank is to see them slowing already weak growth in the EuroZone even further. That could move up the bank's timetable for acting on asset purchases.
Of course, with financial markets in the United States closed on Monday, US traders and investors won't be able to fully respond to any military or geopolitical moves that take place this weekend until Tuesday. The more news, the more markets will have to react to when they reopen.
And don't forget the steady supply of rumors ahead of Apple's (AAPL) September 9 event that is expected to see the announcement of a new iPhone (or will it be two models?)
Should be a fun week ahead.
In the meantime, here's wishing everyone a fun and safe Labor Day holiday. I'll be monitoring news over the weekend and I'll post if something important breaks. Otherwise, I'm off until Tuesday.