Wednesday: Bond Traders Waiting for Bigger Data

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By John J. Edwards III
Staff Reporter

Sure, there's not much going on. The usual weekly economic data are trickling out, but where are the big numbers, the market movers, the earth-shakers?

Just wait.

"This is the lull before the storm," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at

Nikko Securities

. "Next week we'll get just buried with numbers, absolutely, positively buried with numbers."

The biggest of those big reports will be one that surfaces just four times a year: the quarterly

Employment Cost Index

. The first-quarter ECI is set for release Tuesday and will be exhaustively studied from Wall Street to the ivory tower, Brusca said.

"This is the best measure of compensation costs," he said. "It's the index to watch, everybody knows that." Brusca said the ECI is superior to other labor-cost measures, such as the monthly

average hourly wage

reports, because of its greater accuracy. For example, the hourly-wage reports consider promotions to higher positions simple increases in wages; the ECI accounts for that. The hourly-wage reports make the same mistake with overtime; not so the ECI.

Further major data releases to look forward to next week include

durable goods orders

(Tuesday),

consumer confidence

(Tuesday),

real Gross Domestic Product

(Wednesday),

personal income and consumption

(Thursday), the

National Association of Purchasing Management Index

(Thursday) and

April employment

(Friday) -- among others, believe it or not.

As for the present, it's not all bland economic treacle. The bond market got excited about the strong results of Tuesday's

Treasury auction

of two-year notes, with the yield on the bellwether 30-year Treasury bond easing to 7.05%. Given the relative data vacuum, Brusca said, market watchers will focus more closely than usual on things like the Thursday report on

initial jobless claims

.

Wednesday's numbers

:

Fed speech

(10 a.m. EDT):

Chicago Fed

President Michael Moskow talks about the Midwest economy with a business group in Chicago.

Treasury auction

(1 p.m. EDT): $12.5 billion in five-year notes; $10.5 billion maturing.

Consumer Comfort Index

(6:30 p.m. EDT): The

ABC/Money Magazine

gauge for the week ended Sunday, compared with 1 -- a 52-week high -- in the prior week. The 52-week low is -14, set in the week ended May 19.