Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Look Ahead: Trade Deficit, Unemployment Claims

by Bill McBride on 5/09/2012 09:59:00 PM

There are two key economic indicators scheduled for release tomorrow.

• The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released at 8:30 AM ET. The consensus is for a slight increase to 366,000 from 365,000 last week.

• Also at 8:30 AM, the trade balance report for March will be released. The consensus is for the U.S. trade deficit to increase to $49.5 billion in March, up from from $46.0 billion in February. Here are some comments from Merrill Lynch:

"The trade deficit is likely to widen to $51.0bn in March ... Imports plunged ... in February owing to a drop in crude oil imports and ... The Chinese Lunar New Year holiday likely contributed to the decline in imports ... We also think export growth should continue to be held back by the Euro zone recession. This report has a good chance to alter Q1 GDP tracking since the BEA estimate of the March trade balance assumes an even more dramatic widening in the trade deficit than we or the consensus."
Oil import prices will probably be higher too since future prices increased in February and early March (import prices lag futures).

• Import and export prices for March will also be released at 8:30 AM, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is speaking on bank regulation at 9:30 AM (not market moving).

For the monthly economic question contest: