The Dow Eagerly Awaits the FOMC Statement

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is basically unchanged following some better-than-expected economic reports. The big news of the day is the Federal Open Market Committee's post-meeting statement, which will be released at 2 p.m. EDT. As of 1:15 p.m. EDT the Dow is up 12 points to 15,533. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up three points to 1,689.

There were four U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

ADP private-sector employment

July

200,000

198,000

GDP advance report

Q2

1.7%

1.1%

Employment cost index

Q2

0.5%

0.5%

Chicago PMI

July

52.3

51.6

The key reports here are GDP and private-sector employment. This quarter saw the scheduled change in the way GDP is calculated. The Department of Commerce updates its methods roughly twice each decade in order to more accurately measure the size of the economy. Based on the new process, 2012 growth was revised upward from 2.2% to 2.8%.

First-quarter GDP growth was revised downward from 1.8% to 1.1%. Q2 GDP growth was pegged at 1.7%, though this is the first estimate and will be revised twice as more data becomes available. Analysts had expected growth of just 1%, indicating that the economy was stronger in the second quarter than many had expected. It remains to be seen whether the economy will stay strong after mortgage rates jumped at the end of May and into June.

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate Chart

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate data by YCharts.

ADP's private-sector jobs report estimated that the private sector added 200,000 jobs in July. That's better than analyst expectations of 185,000 and higher than June's upwardly revised198,000. The government will report its nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, with analysts expecting an addition of 175,000 jobs. While employment is picking up in the private sector, the public sector is shedding jobs as the sequester continues to slowly take effect.

ADP Change in Nonfarm Payrolls Chart

ADP Change in Nonfarm Payrolls data by YCharts.

For the markets, a stronger-than-expected economy and jobs market is a double-edged sword. The market is being supported by the Federal Reserve's monthly $85 billion asset purchases. After the Federal Reserve's meeting last month, Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that if the economy continues to strengthen, the Fed could start to taper its purchases as soon as the end of the year. After the bond and mortgage markets sold off in response, Federal Reserve officials backpedaled in order to stem the damage. My favorite line came from Jeffrey Lacker, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond: "In other words, the Federal Reserve is not only leaving the punch bowl in place, we're continuing to spike the punch, though at a decreasing rate over the next year."

It remains to be seen what will happen, but Bernanke will likely do his best not to spook the market again. 

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