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Key Economic Reports to Watch This Week

Durable goods and Q1 GDP reports will be critical market movers


In addition to the continuation of earnings releases this week, there are six key government and private sector reports I’ll be keeping an eye on and you should place them on your agenda, as well.

Here is the list of reports and the date(s) of release:

Tuesday (April 24)

Consumer Confidence Survey: The Conference Board will release its monthly survey to determine the level of consumer confidence. The report is interesting as it may predict shifts in consumption patterns and is a further indication of how consumers are feeling about the overall economic picture.

New Home Sales:  The Commerce Department will release this report that indicates the level of new privately owned single-family houses sold and for sale for February. In addition to new home sales, the market monitors the number of homes for sale relative to the current sales pace. As the inventory changes, housing starts change. 

Wednesday (April 25)

Durable Goods Orders:  The Commerce Department will release this monthly report for March that details the dollar volume of orders, shipments and unfilled orders of durable goods. Durable goods are those items with an intended lifespan of more than three years. Orders for durable goods are considered an excellent indicator of manufacturing activity. It is likely that the stock market will move on this report.

Thursday (April 26)

Initial Claims for Unemployment: The Labor Department produces this report that details initial jobless applications. The report provides an indicator of the direction of the economy, with increases or decreases in claims that signal slowing or accelerating job growth.

Friday (April 27)

First-Quarter Gross Domestic Product (First Estimate): This is a significant report. The Commerce Department will release its estimate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers for the economy for the first quarter of 2012. This is the broadest measure of economic activity. This report can move the market up or down depending on the data. The broad components of GDP are: consumer spending (consumption), investment, net exports, government purchases and inventories. Consumer spending is by far the largest component, totaling roughly two-thirds of GDP.

University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (Final Reading):  The University of Michigan index is almost identical to the Conference Board index, though there are two monthly releases, a preliminary and final reading. Like the Conference Board index, it has two sub-indices–expectations and current conditions. This index has increased its influence of late on Wall Street and has the ability to move the market up or down.

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