Looking Ahead in the U.S.

Traders will be searching for any signs the economy and job market are really kicking into higher gear, as Friday’s jobs report suggests.  November saw the strongest employment gains in 35 months, and the market instantly re-priced expectations for the first Federal Reserve interest rate hike for June from September. That was also the timing mentioned by New York Fed President William Dudley in comments earlier in the week.

So, markets in the week ahead will be adjusting to the idea that the Fed is beginning to get the confirmation it needs to start normalizing monetary policy. Bond strategists expect to see a bias toward higher rates, and stock traders are watching to see if the Dow will cross the 18,000 threshold —a big round psychological number just 42 points away from Friday’s closing level.

Economic data in the week ahead includes job opening and turnover data Tuesday; retail sales on Thursday and PPI and consumer sentiment Friday. There are a handful of earnings, including Costco and home builders Hovnanian and Toll Brothers.


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