New York Report: Investors eye retail and jobs data for clues

A WEEK packed with data awaits investors eager for fresh clues on when the Federal Reserve will start to trim its stimulus program, as traditionally bullish December kicks off with the S&P 500 poised to mark its best year since 1998.

Traders will also sweep through sales data from retailers after the long Thanksgiving weekend, which has kick-started the holiday shopping season. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Asia will increase the focus on a standoff pitting China against Japan, South Korea and the United States over air routes over the East China Sea.

Employment numbers will be the highlight as traders second-guess what the data will mean for the Fed and its announced intention to gradually reduce its $85bn in monthly asset purchases, which have lit a fire under the stock market this year. The Fed has repeatedly said its stimulus remains data-dependent, leading traders to treat soft data as a bullish market catalyst that guarantees Fed stimulus.

Nonfarm payrolls for November on Friday will cap three days of jobs data that includes ADP’s November report on private-sector payrolls on Wednesday and weekly US jobless claims on Thursday. Economists expect the US economy to have created 185,000 jobs in November, down from 204,000 in October, according to a survey of economists.

Other major economic indicators due this week include the Institute for Supply Management’s data on the US manufacturing and services sectors, with the ISM factory index expected today and the ISM services index due on Wednesday.