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For the week of September 20th (in conjunction with Econoday):

Earnings season will start to pick-up some momentum this week though we won’t see many market moving reports.  All in all it will be another week of important economic news with several housing reports, durable goods and of course another important (actually, a total non-event, but market participants won’t let that stop them from trading the news wildly) Fed meeting.  Let’s take a look at what’s on tap:

Monday –

Housing Market Index 10:00 AM ET

Tuesday –

ICSC-Goldman Store Sales 7:45 AM ET

Housing Starts 8:30 AM ET

Housing starts in July posted a modest comeback, rising 1.7 percent after an 8.7 percent decrease in June.  The July annualized pace of 0.546 million units was down 7.0 percent on a year-ago basis. In fact, the latest number is also down fractionally from the initial June estimate of 0.549.   That is, July would have been a decline instead of a rebound was it not for a downward revision to June.  Overall building permits fell back 3.1 percent in July, following a 1.6 percent rebound in June.  Overall permits stood at an annualized rate of 0.565 million units and were down 3.7 percent on a year-ago basis.  Looking ahead, starts are still under pressure from excessive supply.  New homes on the market rose to 9.1 months in July.

Housing starts Consensus Forecast for August 10: 0.550 million-unit rate

Redbook 8:55 AM ET

FOMC Meeting Announcement 2:15 PM ET

The FOMC announcement for the September 21 FOMC policy meeting is expected to leave the fed funds target rate unchanged at a range of zero to 0.25 percent.  The big question is whether any additional quantitative easing measures will be announced.  Also, analysts look for signs of dissent over the timing of changes in the Fed’s balance sheet as well as the size of changes and even the planned composition of assets (mainly Treasuries versus non-Treasury assets).

FOMC Consensus Forecast for 9/21/10 policy vote on fed funds target range: unchanged at a range of zero to 0.25 percent

Wednesday –

MBA Purchase Applications 7:00 AM ET

EIA Petroleum Status Report 10:30 AM ET

Thursday – Nike (NKE) reports after the bell.

Jobless Claims 8:30 AM ET

Initial jobless claims for the September 11 week dipped 3,000 to 450,000 for the lowest total since July. The four-week average posted its sharpest decrease of the year, down 13,500 to a 464,750 level that is about 20,000 lower than mid-month August. However, the latest claims may have been affected by the shortened Labor Day week.  Weekly seasonal adjustment is less reliable than monthly—there is more volatility in the underlying numbers.

Jobless Claims Consensus Forecast for 9/18/10: 450,000

Existing Home Sales 10:00 AM ET

Existing home sales plunged a monthly 27.2 percent in July to a 3.83 million annual rate for the lowest level in 15 years.  This was in sharp contrast to the recent high of 6.49 million annualized units in November 2009 and 5.79 million units in April of this year.  These two months were boosted, however, by deadlines to qualify for special tax credits for homebuyers.  Clearly, many home purchases were moved forward to claim the tax credits, leaving a gap in demand after the incentives ended.   Looking ahead, we might see further improvement in August for existing home as pending home sales (based on contract signings) rebounded 5.2 percent in July and some of those will close in August.

Existing home sales Consensus Forecast for August 10: 4.05 million-unit rate

Leading Indicators 10:00 AM ET

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators made a modest comeback in July, suggesting that forward momentum for the economy continues. The index of leading economic indicators rose 0.1 percent in July after dipping 0.3 percent the month before.  A positive in the latest leading indicators report was a 0.2 percent rise in the coincident index which more than reversed June’s 0.1 percent drop.  This suggests that the economy is not now in recession but merely in a slow growth period.

Leading indicators Consensus Forecast for August 10: +0.1 percent

EIA Natural Gas Report 10:30 AM ET

Friday –

Durable Goods Orders 8:30 AM ET

Durable goods orders in July rebounded a revised 0.4 percent, following a 0.2 percent decline the prior month.  Unfortunately, strength is narrowly focused for the month.  Most of new orders strength came from transportation which jumped a revised 12.9 percent, following a 1.1 percent decrease in June. Nondefense aircraft spiked 75.9 percent after falling 25.3 percent in June. Most other components slipped. Excluding transportation, new durables orders dropped a revised 3.7 percent, following a 0.2 percent rise in June. Looking ahead, precursor indicators on orders are mixed.  The ISM new orders index for August was barely in positive territory at 52.4 (breakeven of 50).  For the same period, the Philly Fed and New York Fed new orders indexes were both negative at minus 7.1 and minus 2.7, respectively (breakeven of zero).  However, the manufacturing survey indexes include nondurables in addition to durables.

New orders for durable goods Consensus Forecast for August 10: -1.0 percent

New Home Sales 10:00 AM ET

New home sales fell 12.4 percent in July to a record low 276,000 unit annual rate for a series that goes back to 1963. This compares to recent highs of 408,000 in July 2009 and 414,000 in April of this year.  Supply rose steeply, to 9.1 months from June’s 8.0 months. Looking ahead, early indications are not good.  The National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index was very weak in July and August—especially for traffic viewing homes.

New home sales Consensus Forecast for August 10: 290 thousand-unit annual rate