In terms of what will move markets and make news this week, the economy remains at center stage following the heartening news of the past few weeks on home prices and jobs.
Weekly initial unemployment claims declined in the week ending August 1, the Department of Labor announced last week, while the unemployment rate edged down to 9.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS noted, however, that the number of people actually looking for work–the civilian labor force participation rate–was off by 0.2% in July 2009 to 65.5%, and that the employment-population ratio, now at 59.4%, has declined by 3.3% since the current recession began.
Are we headed toward deflation? The consensus among economists is that the CPI for July to be released on August 14 will be only changed 0.1% from June. Of course, the consensus last week was that unemployment would increase from 9.;5% to 9.7%.
The Fed’s Open Market Committee meets August 11 and 12; the FOMC announcement on August 12 is expected to leave unchanged the Fed Funds target, but watch for market moving comments on the state of the economy. Retail sales for July will be announced the morning of the 13th.
An interesting BusinessWeek story on the SEC’s enforcement division looks at the activities of its still relatively new chief, former federal prosecutor Robert Khuzami. Speaking of the SEC, in an interview with the Financial Times, Mary Schapiro raised the issue of having the Commission become a self-funded agency, which could go a long way toward correcting the SEC’s chronic problems of budgeting shortfalls and lack of expertise.
On the earnings front, Broadridge announces on August 11, while ING announces on August 12. Finally, in case you missed it, in his swan song on August 7 the departing AIG chairman and CEO Edward Liddy was able to announce that the company posted its first profit in nearly two years.
The House remains in recess until the Labor Day weekend, while the Senate holds a pro forma session on August 10 and then goes on recess itself until early September.