This Will Drive Markets in ‘Most Important’ Week

Markets could be in for macro overload in the week ahead with central bankers, next Friday’s jobs report and OPEC dominating the headlines.

“My guess is most of the action will be a tail wind for stocks,” said Jack Ablin, CIO of BMO Private Bank.

Central bankers in the U.S. and Europe are in high gear in the coming week, with the European Central Bank expected to expand its easing program and cut its already negative deposit rate. That coincides with a week that could bring the most important U.S. jobs report and other data the Fed will consider when it meets Dec. 15 and 16.

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“I think people should be starting to shift their focus away from the December meeting because they’re going to raise. They should be asking themselves if the economic data is good enough to augur a multi-rate hike cycle, rather than just a one and done,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at Lindsey Group.

Next Friday’s November employment report is expected to show 200,000 nonfarm payrolls and an unchanged unemployment rate of 5 percent, after October’s surprisingly strong 271,000 jobs. Wages are projected to rise 0.2 percent, after October’s unexpected 0.4 percent increase.

“The shift is really back to the economic data and away from all the earnings we’ve seen. We of course get ‘Class A’ type data. It’s not just the jobs report, but the ISM manufacturing number and vehicle sales,” said Boockvar.

The Thanksgiving week is typically positive for stocks, but the market ended it mixed and flattish. The S&P 500  (.SPX) closed up 0.04 percent for the week to 2,090, while the Dow  (.DJI) fell 0.14 percent to 17,798.

In the coming week, there are also several important Fed appearances, including two by Chair Janet Yellen. She speaks to the Economic Club of Washington on Wednesday and testifies before the congressional Joint Economic Committee on Thursday, giving her opportunities to reinforce the Fed’s message on the potential for a December rate increase.

“She just wants to firmly set expectations. Assuming no disasters, they’ll raise rates. She has to stay on message. When you’re 2 ½ weeks from your first rate hike in nine years, you have to start steering people into the same camp,” Boockvar said.

Barclays chief U.S. economist, Michael Gapen, said the jobs report would have to be shockingly weak for the Fed to hold off on a rate rise. “I doubt we’re going to see a number that was as strong as last month, but you need a number like 50,000 or 75,000 for the Fed not to go in December. There’s a low bar for this report to clear,” said Gapen.

As for the oil market, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is not expected to change its stance on letting the market set prices when it meets next Friday. A year ago, OPEC said it would not cut back on output unless other higher-cost producers did the same and instead, it would let the market set the price. The market did drive the price, and oil is now trading in the low $40s a barrel.

In the past week, oil prices rose as the market focused on geopolitical concerns, with the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey. But by Friday, most of that premium was out of the price, as traders once more focused on high supplies and still-growing inventories.

“I think the members that matter, the Saudis and close partners are simply maintaining output and letting the rebalancing play out. It hasn’t played out as they intended but they’re locked into it now,” said Greg Priddy, director of global energy and natural resources at the Eurasia Group.

Analysts say OPEC could manage to talk down prices even further, depending on the rhetoric from its meeting, where some members like Venezuela will continue pushing for production cuts and other members will resist.

“I think we’re going to have inventories accumulating through 2016,” said Priddy. “We’re not going to have inventory drawdowns until 2017, and that’s because Iran is coming on … but it will be accumulating at a much lower pace as we get into the second half of the year.”

Other important events in the coming week include the IMF‘s decision Monday on China’s currency. It is expected to vote to include the yuan in the fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket which, while largely symbolic, would elevate the currency and China’s influence in the global economy.

Analysts don’t expect the move to have a big impact immediately, but ultimately it could be a factor in opening China’s capital markets.

The dollar  (.DXY) will also be a big focus in the week ahead, as the diverging paths of the Federal Reserve and ECB and other central banks has been driving it higher. The euro in the past week fell below $1.06 and the dollar index rose above 100.

“Next week could be one of the most important weeks of the year,” said Marc Chandler, head of foreign exchange strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.

Some strategists expect the jobs number to be the big mover for currencies, but Chandler said there’s scope for the ECB to surprise. “More often than not, [Mario] Draghi has surprised the markets with his dovishness,” he said.

The ECB could push out the timetable for its easing program into 2017, and expand the type and quantity of securities it is buying.

Ablin said investors are also awaiting any data that reveal how holiday shopping is going over the weekend and on Cyber Monday.

“We’re all going to wait on the retail data. How meaningful it is, I don’t know. Are the brick-and-mortar retailers going to get hammered or are investors overly concerned?” he said.

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