With the shutdown/debt ceiling crisis behind us, the stock market is free to worry about a slowdown in U.S. economic growth and to hope for a delay in the Federal Reserve’s taper until sometime in 2014. That’s pushing the U.S. market away from growth sensitive stocks and toward stocks with safe dividends that won’t be cut even if the economy stumbles.
Back to normal. The United States won’t default. The federal government is open again—including the Panda cam at the National Zoo. And once again earnings count. Which at least for the day isn’t good news for U.S. stocks—at least not for the Dow Jones Industrials. I think we’re seeing three themes that are likely to be major drivers of the U.S. market as we move through the meat of earnings season
Although Friday’s U.S. unemployment figures won’t have anything to do with the sequester and its $85 billion in cuts that went into effect on Friday, investors will be studying the numbers with that event in mind and looking for any signs that the economy was/is/will be slowing.
This morning the Labor Department announced that new applications for unemployment fell by 37,000 to 335,000 in the week ended January 12. That’s the lowest number since initial claims in the week ended January 19, 2008. Unfortunately, as a spokesman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics explained when the data was released, the improvement is likely to be a result of problems in adjusting the data for seasonal effects.