After the Senate passage of the Dodd reform bill (S.3217) on Thursday, aside from beginning the process of reconciliation with the companion legislation passed by the House, action on Capitol Hill slows down considerably this week, although there are a few committee hearings of interest.
On Tuesday, May 25 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold Hearings to examine the liability and financial responsibility issues related to offshore oil production, including the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, including S. 3346, to increase the limits on liability under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Then on May 27, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will resume its hearings to examine the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on small businesses.
Also on May 25, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee holds hearings to examine the financial state of the airline industry and the implications of consolidation.
And speaking of the Dodd bill it seems that despite the doom and gloom from lobbyists and their allies in Congress that the reform legislation would torpedo economic growth, many informed observers now seem to think the bill would cut into Wall Street’s profit picture, but not mess with its size or power. A report in the New York Times indicated that the markets agree with that assessment since on Friday stocks of financial institutions performed well, with shares of JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley each up 5%.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases a pair of reports this week that can often help move the markets. On Thursday May 25 the GDP figures for the first quarter are released. Last month’s advance estimated report saw growth in the first three months of the year slowing to an annualized rate of 3.2%, although the consensus ranges from 3.2% to 3.8%. Inflation remains soft with the GDP price index up only 0.9%.
That report will be followed the next day with the release of personal income and outlays for the month of April. Personal income is expected to be up 0.5%, following increases of 0.3% and 0.1% in March and February, respectively. Consumer spending is expected to have slowed from March when it outpaced income growth, with the consensus forming around a 0.2% boost.
Other reports to be released this week include the S&P Case-Shiller home price index which tracks the monthly changes in residential real estate prices in 20 metropolitan regions on May 25 (figures are for March); the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index the same day; the Census Bureau’s monthly report on new home sales on May 26; and the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index on Friday May 28, as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer.