Daily Agenda: The Week Ahead, January 4 – 9, 2016

U.S. personal consumption expenditures and employment data on deck; Monsanto releases quarterly results; Harbin, China celebrates ice and snow.


Some investors will face the new week with a hangover from overdoing at seasonal festivities. Others, though, will face a hangover of a different sort after a challenging year across multiple asset classes and geographies. The macro reporting year in the U.S. opens with a series of key data points on the health of the job market and consumer spending. The releases are expected to show enough strength in the U.S. economy to support the case for policymakers at the Federal Reserve to stick to the script they provided markets last month: a long slow process of lifting rates. Meanwhile, the resolve of European Central Bank president Mario Draghi will be tested by fresh employment data for the euro zone just weeks after disappointing bond markets with easing measures that failed to live up to the “bazooka” he had threatened to deploy in the past.

Monday, January 4: In case you weren’t yet tired of Christmas shopping, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis kicks off the first work week of 2016 with the release of December personal consumption expenditure data. Sentiment data released last week by the Conference Board for December indicated that the mood of shoppers improved in December with the headline index rising sharply to 96.5 versus a revised 92.6 for November.

Tuesday, January 5: The Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival gets underway in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, near the China-Russia border. A virtual city of ice will be created by as many as 15,000 artists from around the globe — some using high-tech lasers. The festival is partly a revival of the Ice Lantern celebration that was suppressed during the Cultural Revolution.

Wednesday, January 6: Monsanto Co. announces fiscal first-quarter 2016 results. Shares of the Missouri-based agrochemicals giant have been trading at a modest premium to projected forward earnings versus the rest of the S&P 500, well below the lofty valuations in years past. After Monsanto’s bid for pesticide maker Syngenta failed, China National Chemical Corp., stepped in with a fresh offer, prompting speculation that Monsanto will up the ante.

Thursday, January 7: Eurostat releases November unemployment data. The headline jobless rate for the euro zone remains well above 10 percent despite improvements in recent months. In Italy, one of the weakest markets in the EU in terms of job creation, the headline unemployment rate fell by more than one and a half percent year-to-date in October at a still uncomfortably high 11.5 percent.

Friday, January 8: A majority of economists expect the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly report for December to reflect a continuation of the slow-but-steady improvement seen in 2015. November figures revealed a 211,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls with an upward revision of 35,000 for October’s job count.

Saturday, January 9: After racking up $474,560 in box office receipts despite being initially released only in four theaters on December 25, The Revenant, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Leonardo Di Caprio, opens for nationwide release over the weekend. The movie, based in part on Michael Punke’s book The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, concerns the exploits of 19th-century trapper Hugh Glass. The real-life Glass was part of a group of trappers working for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, a smaller competitor of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, which was ultimately absorbed by the larger rival.