Investors and technology business people will mostly relax this week as they fix their hopes on the New Year while trying to forget the past year.
The holidays have squelched the buzz around any potential news; almost no major earnings or conferences are scheduled, which will help the tech community reflect on the aftermath of a turbulent year.
Economic news will provide some stimulation to an otherwise dormant week. The Department of Labor on Friday will release data on the nation's employment situation.
Economic prognosticators expect the country's unemployment rate will rise to 5.8 percent for December from November's 5.7 percent reading. Unemployment was at 5.4 percent in October and 4.9 percent in September, partially reflecting the impact of a slowing economy that was magnified by the effects of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Yet there may be some upbeat reports, or less bad news, depending on the viewpoint. Wall Street believes that the rate of job cuts may have slowed in December. Nonfarm companies reduced their payrolls by 331,000 workers during November and 468,000 in October. However, analysts believe that 175,000 jobs will be cut in December.
Monday, Dec. 31
- Auto sales represents the number of new cars sold in the United States as compiled by the Commerce Department. Analysts predict that sales will slip to 6.1 million for December from the previous month's 6.3 million. The Commerce Department will also release figures for truck sales, which are expected to slide to 7.8 million in December from November's 8.2 million.
- The National Association of Purchasing Managers index tracks how many hard goods were bought by purchasing managers. The December NAPM index is expected to rise to 45.8 percent from 44.5 percent in January. Some economists regard index values above 50 as an indication of an expanding economy, while values below 50 signify contraction.
- Initial Claims refers to the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits each week as reported by the Department of Labor. Claims will be reported for the week ending Dec. 29.
- Construction spending tabulates the dollar amount of newly completed building structures in a month as reported by the Commerce Department. Wall Street estimates spending will shrink 0.1 percent in November compared with October's increase of 1.9 percent.
- Nonfarm Payrolls represents the change in total nonfarm employment. Economists believe that businesses have shed 175,000 jobs in December compared with November's decrease of 331,000.
- Average workweek data is the average amount of hours worked per week in the private sector as estimated monthly by the Labor Department. Economists expect hours worked to stay unchanged at 34.1 hours for December vs. November.
- The unemployment rate tracks the percentage of unemployed adults, also estimated monthly by the Labor Department. Wall Street believes unemployment will rise to 5.8 percent for December from the previous month's 5.7 percent.
- The Labor Department also follows the monthly percentage change in hourly earnings in the private sector. This number is expected to rise 0.3 percent for the month of December, the same increase as November.
- The Non-Manufacturing NAPM index tracks how many hard goods were bought monthly by purchasing managers in the services industry. Analysts estimate the services index will fall to 50.3 percent for December vs. 51.3 percent in November.