NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The first week of each month is always packed with economic reports, so expect employment, consumer spending and manufacturing data to drive the markets in the trading week ahead.
The all-important non-farm payroll report comes out on Friday. Traders, economists and policy-makers pay particular attention to this employment report because it offers the most comprehensive look at how many people are looking for jobs, how many have them, what they're getting paid, and how many hours they are working. Those numbers are key to gauging the current state and the future direction of the economy.
The employment statistics also provide insight on wage trends, and wage inflation is high on the list of things that worry opponents of the Fed's loose monetary policy.
Other key reports to watch include the ADP employment report, initial jobless claims, motor vehicle sales, same-store sales, manufacturing and non-nanufacturing PMI, the ISM report, and construction spending.
While the earnings calendar is light, with only six S&P 500 companies reporting next week. Among the few, two that stand out on the earnings roster are semiconductor firm Ambarella (AMBA) - Get Report and food-maker J.M. Smucker (SJM) - Get Report.
Speculation has been rampant about the possibility of more consolidation in the semiconductor industry as mature companies like Intel (INTC) - Get Report and Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Report look for new growth verticals. As a result, the sector has seen active trading. Ambarella is up 75% on the year, and the options market is implying an 8.5% move following the earnings report. Smucker is a consumer staples company, M&A activity is heating up in that sector too. Just as in the semiconductor business, mature brands in the consumer staples space are looking to grow via acquisition in verticals where the uptrends are. In March, Smucker completed its acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands in a move to enter the growing, $21 billion pet food category.