The economic numbers that really move U.S. stocks are due tomorrow

06/03/2010 10:30 am EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

Get ready for a flood of U.S. economic data tomorrow, June 4.

U.S. stock markets opened ahead this morning on positive economic numbers and, more importantly, on anticipation that tomorrow’s numbers will clearly show that growth in the United States remains on track.

This morning’s ADP report on private sector employment showed a gain of 55,000 jobs in May. That was the fourth straight month for job gains. Initial claims for unemployment, also released this morning by the Department of Labor, fell by 10,000 last week to 453,000. The four-week moving average of initial claims climbed, however by 1,750 to 459,000. That was the third increase in the moving average in the last three weeks.

The big numbers, the ones that can really move the stock market, come out tomorrow, Friday, however.

At 8:30 ET, before the New York Stock Exchange opens, the government will release its numbers on jobs, unemployment, hours worked, and average hourly wages. Economists and investors will be searching for signs that the U.S. economic recovery is on track or confirmation of worries that growth is faltering.

Right now, according to, the consensus among economists calls for a 500,000 gain in jobs for May. That would be a huge increase from the 295,000 jobs added by the economy in April. The April number was itself the biggest increase in jobs since March 2006.

An increase of 500,000 jobs would be enough to actually send the unemployment rate slightly lower even as an improving economy brings more discouraged workers back into the labor force. Economists are looking for the unemployment rate to drop to 9.8% from 9.9%. They probably wouldn’t be terribly surprised, however, if the unemployment rate held steady or even ticked up. The pace with which discouraged workers re-enter the work force is very tough to predict.

Hourly earnings are expected to glow slightly—by 0.1%. This number was flat in April.

And hours worked is predicted to rise to 34.2 per week from 34.1 in April.

None of these numbers would signal an especially robust recovery but they would be enough to cement the U.S. stock market’s rank as the best performing in the world in 2010. The U.S. economy doesn’t have to be perfect. Just better.
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