Today's Focus: Jobless Claims, Retail, Stimulus
Before the opening bell today, markets will have a lot of information to digest. The weekly jobless claims will be out at 8:30 a.m., giving us a picture into the last week of January and also provide a window into the "biggie" monthly jobless numbers expected tomorrow from the Labor Department. As you recall, last month several major corporations announced big layoffs into the tens of thousands of workers, so January is expected to bump up that 7.2 percent national unemployment rate. A couple of states have already hit the 10 percent unemployment mark: Michigan, home of the Big Three, and Rhode Island.
Also, this morning retailers begin reporting their monthly same-store-sales figures, giving Wall Street investors a better understanding of consumer spending, which is not expected to have improved from December. January and February are not typically big sales months, even as retailers try and push inventory with big price reductions.
Later in the day, we'll watch to see if the Senate moves closer to a vote on the stimulus bill as more negotiations continue on the Hill. Republicans are pushing for a slimmer version of the nearly $900 billion package that Democrats had wanted.
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