As May has wound to a close,
and news of its probable bankruptcy have dominated the headlines and made it hard for anyone to look ahead to the first week of a new month.
But once the government-imposed deadline for the automaker's restructuring comes and goes Monday, traders will have to turn their attention quickly to a spate of economic reports scheduled to be released, including the latest monthly jobs report.
At 8:30 a.m. EDT Friday, the Labor Department will release the nonfarm payrolls report for May, which is expected to show that the U.S. economy lost 550,000 jobs during the month. If economists' forecasts are correct, that number would be an increase from April's loss of 539,000, likely impacted by jobs lost during
Signs of a worsening job market will not bode well for bulls. Traders have already reacted negatively to reports that show the rate of decline has slowed, instead wanting clear signs of economic improvement. If the jobs number comes in worse than the previous month, it will be very tough for bullish investors to swallow.
"Essentially, investors are still finding themselves in an environment where the deterioration has abated, but without any tangible upside beats about which to get excited," wrote Mike O'Rourke, chief market strategist with institutional broker dealer BTIG, in an email. "With every week that passes, the likelihood of continued improvement rises. Still, investors want a data point that is tangible and makes the decision-making process clear-cut."
Still, there is a chance that May's job losses could end up being better than April but still come in worse than the 550,000 consensus. Paul Nolte, director of investments with Hinsdale Associates, said it all depends on revisions to prior months, which are likely to be negative. For instance, when April's preliminary number was released, February's loss was revised from 651,000 to 681,000, and the drop for March was revised from 663,000 to 699,000.
"There were certainly some questions about April's 539,000 number, saying it was artificially low because of government hiring and some other issues," Nolte said. "The key number we don't know is the revision. If we revise 539,000 in April to 575,000 and May comes in at 551,000, it's still better month over month. The good news is that the backup won't be so dramatic that we'll see 700,000 losses on a monthly basis."
Of course, that doesn't downplay the importance of a bankruptcy filing by GM. The government is expected to usher the troubled automaker into bankruptcy court Monday and then provide it with at least $30 billion in financing to carry it through the process. That infusion, which would come on top of $20 billion in loans already granted to GM, means the government would end up with a controlling ownership stake in the automaker of as much as 72.5%.
GM shares broke the buck on Friday, and in all likelihood the stock will be removed from the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
early next week and replaced with a new component.
If that pill isn't bitter enough for GM and its management to swallow, auto sales data for May are scheduled to be released Tuesday and are likely to one more awful reminder of the carmaker's woes.
But it won't be simply about jobs data and GM's bankruptcy next week. A torrent of economic reports will fall between Monday's premarket session and Friday's closing bell. On Monday, traders will have to sift through reports on personal income and spending for April, the May reading for the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index, and construction spending for April.
Aside from May sales data for GM,
and the other automakers, the only report due to be released Tuesday is the April read on pending home sales. Activity picks up again Wednesday, with the latest ADP employment report, factory orders data for April and the ISM's services index for May.
Thursday will bring the weekly initial jobless claims data, as well as a revised look at first-quarter productivity and unit labor costs. And in addition to the jobs report, Friday will see the release of consumer credit data for April.
"In the last couple of weeks, we've had questioning of the 'green shoots' theory based solely on relatively poor housing data, so it's going to be an interesting week because we get all the heavyweight economic data," said Nolte. "You'll see a lot of trading around those numbers. Out of this fresh round of data, everyone will be looking for confirmation that things are getting less worse."
Meanwhile, the deadline for subscriptions to the
Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, for June will come Tuesday and likely will give investors a better idea how effective the program has been in improving conditions in the market for securities tied to consumer and business loans.
The June TALF is the first to be expanded to include newly issued commercial mortgage-backed securities, or CMBS, as acceptable TALF collateral. Earlier this month, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said demand for the TALF should rise in June from May's subscription total of $10.9 billion as investors become more comfortable with the program.
"It will be interesting to see how many more deals come online before Tuesday's deadline," BTIG's O'Rourke said. "This will be the first TALF where CMBS are eligible. Based on the short history of the facility, expectations are not high for CMBS in this first round, but it will be interesting to see if any deals get done."
On Wednesday, the day after the TALF deadline, Bernanke will appear before the House of Representatives' budget committee to deliver testimony on current economic and financial conditions, as well as the federal budget. On Thursday, Bernanke will give welcoming remarks in a speech before a conference on financial markets and monetary policy at the Federal Reserve Board.
If traders are overwhelmed by all of that data, they will find comfort in that the fact that only a handful of companies will release earnings reports in the coming week.
are among the few companies scheduled to report quarterly results over the next five sessions.
In other stock news, the IPO market,
, will see another new addition.
Government Properties Income Trust
, a REIT investing in properties primarily leased to government tenants, is set to price its initial public offering in the coming week.
The company will offer 10 million shares in a price range of $20 to $22 a share. Based on the midpoint of that range, Government Properties should raise about $210 million. The company will begin trading on the
New York Stock Exchange
under the symbol GOV.