Wall Street Focuses on Jobs Market

In addition to keeping tabs on developments in disaster-struck Japan, war-torn Libya and debt-ridden Europe, US investors will be focusing on the job market in their home country as the Labor Department’s jobs report for March is due late in the week. With consumer dollars being a driving force behind the economy, the embattled job market is an ongoing cause for concern. Certainly, many stock market players would agree that the first quarter of 2011 has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. Following a promising start to the new year, with a strong earnings season pushing markets to unexpected highs in mid-February, the Middle East and Japanese crises served up a blow to markets and investor confidence in March.

Monday on Wall Street sees the release of personal income and spending figures for February by the Commerce Department. Also on Monday, the National Association of Realtors is set to issue its pending home sales report for January. The Conference Board will be releasing March consumer confidence figures on Tuesday with expectations being that consumer confidence will have fallen sharply from last month’s 70.4 to 65.0 mainly in response to turmoil in the oil market and the ongoing crisis in Japan. Tuesday also sees the release of the January S&P Case-Shiller home price index.

As one of three labor reports to be released in this week, the ADP private-sector jobs report is due on Wednesday, with investors hopeful that 210,000 private sector jobs will have been added. Also on Wednesday is the release of discount chain store group Family Dollar’s results. The weekly jobless claims are due to be released on Thursday morning, with expectation being that claims will have inched higher from last week’s 382,000 to 383,000 claims. Other reports due on Thursday are the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago‘s purchasing managers’ index for March, as well as the February factory orders report from the Commerce Department.

Friday sees the much-anticipated Labor Department’s jobs report, as well as the Commerce Department’s construction spending report for February and the March manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management. Monthly sales reports are expected from Ford and General Motors on Friday afternoon.