The Week Ahead: Closing the Books on the Quarter

 | Mar 30, 2014 | 8:00 PM EDT  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

ayi

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aixg

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veco

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cree

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gbx

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arii

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trn

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mon

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kmx

We have one day left in the March quarter -- three months that have been one filled with all sorts of things, from harsh winter weather to political items and even the 2014 Winter Olympics. That's not to mention weaker-than-expected guidance earlier in the quarter from a number of companies. All of that has weighed on the stock market since the start of the year, and most of the major market indices were in the red in late January. The market rebounded in February and March, but most of those gains have since been erased over these last few weeks.

As we prepare to close the books on the March quarter and open them for the next, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more than 1.5% year to date while the S&P 500 is up modestly and the Nasdaq Composite Index is modestly in the red. Several sectors, including housing and related industries, biotech, technology and healthcare companies, have all taken it on the chin.

With scant earnings due for the coming week, the majority of investor attention will focus on economic data and any political developments as it pertains to Ukraine. That's not saying we won't have any earnings to look for but, rather, the frequency of meaningful earnings reports will be rather low.

That said, Acuity Brands (AYI) should shed some color on the light-emitting-diode (LED) market. Over the last month, the shares of what I call the LED trifecta -- Aixtron (AIXG), Veeco Instruments (VECO) and Cree (CREE) have been all over the map. Similarly, Greenbrier Cos. (GBX) is set to shed some light on railcar demand and hint at what we may hear from American Railcar (ARII), Trinity Industries (TRN) and others. In looking at those companies, I'll be watching the trend in backlog as well as pricing in new orders. Also on tap are Monsanto (MON), which will be telling for the farm economy, and CarMax (KMX), a good source of information on the used car market.

Other than the usual weekly data for jobless claims, crude and natural gas inventories and the Mortgage Bankers Association's mortgage index, we'll be in for a vast amount of economic data that get can be broken down into a few camps. First we have the purchasing managers indices, both for the manufacturing and services sectors, from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) as well as Markit Economics and HSBC. Yep, it's a big week for that data -- but we've already received the Markit/HSBC flash PMIs, so we have an idea of what to expect. The ISM manufacturing report for March will give us a feel for how the U.S. economy performed this month, including a take on job creation.

That leads us to the second data camp: employment numbers. The first week of April is due to bring those data from several sources -- ADP, Challenger Grey and others, as well as the "official" data from the Labor Department. Numbers from that last source disappointed in January and surprised to the upside in February, even though the average workweek declined month over month. I suspect that was partially weather-related, but we could see some eyebrows rise if that lone data point gives way to another.

The last group of data will be the March auto-and-truck-sales figures. The overall numbers will tell whether the auto rebound has continued in March -- though, on my end, I believe we still have a ways to go in the auto rebound, given the average age of the cars and trucks on U.S. roads today. Meanwhile, the data from General Motors (GM) will reveal if the company lost share due to recent headlines and, if so, how much.

Here's a more detailed look at what you can expect in the week ahead:

_________________

Economic Calendar

Monday, March 31

  • Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) (March)

____

Tuesday, April 1

  • HSBC China Manufacturing PMI
  • Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI
  • Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI
  • J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI
  • Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index (March)
  • Construction Spending (February)
  • Auto and Truck Sales (March)

____

Wednesday, April 2

  • Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Mortgage Index (Weekly)
  • ADP Employment Change Report (March)
  • Factory Orders (February)
  • Crude Inventories (Weekly)

 ____

Thursday, April 3

  • HSBC China Services PMI
  • Markit Eurozone Composite PMI
  • Markit US Services PMI
  • J.P. Morgan Global Composite PMI
  • Challenger Job Cuts (March)
  • Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims (Weekly)
  • Trade Balance (February)
  • ISM Services Index (March)
  • Natural Gas Inventories (Weekly)

 ____

Friday, April 4

  • HSBC Emerging Markets Index
  • Employment Report (March)

 

________________

Earnings Calendar

Monday, March 31

  • LGI Homes (LGIH)
  • Lifeway Foods (LWAY)
  • SORL Auto Parts (SORL)

 ____

Tuesday, April 1

  • Apollo Group (APOL)
  • Saratoga Resources (SARA)

 ____

Wednesday, April 2

  • Acuity Brands (AYI)
  • Monsanto Co. (MON)

 ____

Thursday, April 3

  • Dominion Diamond Corp. (DDC)
  • FranklinCovey (FC)
  • Greenbrier Companies (GBX)
  • Global Payments (GPN)
  • Micron Technology (MU)
  • Perry Ellis International (PERY)
  • Texas Industries (TXI)

 ____

Friday, April 4

  • CarMax Inc. (KMX)

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