At 8:30 on Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce will release its monthly report on Personal Income and Outlays for March. Economists polled by Bloomberg predict a modest rise for the Personal Income, with a median estimate of 0.3% gain. The median estimate on the consumptions is at a weak 0.2% rise. Here are the key factors to watch:
1- Will salaries and wages continue to rise and sustain the economy?
Economists agree that wages and salaries will provide an important clue to reveal the broader trend of the American economy amid global volatility and slowing growth.
“The wages and salaries series is closely aligned with Aggregate Weekly payrolls which showed a similar gain in March,” said Rubeela Farooqi, economist at Stone McCarthy Research Associates. Farooqui’s forecast for personal income, slightly above the average, “is based on an estimated 0.4% gain in wages and salaries as well as an on-trend 0.3% increase in other income.”
2- Will rising oil prices influence consumers?
Stan Shipley, director at Bank of America Securities LLC, said that the gains in personal income are linked to the oil bonanza. “It is all about the oil,” he said. Through January consumers benefited from low oil bills, but this trend has changed over the last month. “They know gasoline prices are getting on the rise. So they are not going to rush out and spend the last cent like they did, because they know that the temporarily benefit that they have seen from 2014 until January this year is going to turn against them for several months. Consumers are pretty smart about prices,” said Shipley.
3- Will consumers spending blossom this spring?
Rubeela Farouqui said that the gains in consumer spending have slow down in recent quarters because consumers are “definitely in a cautious mood.” But the economist expects “the PCE to rebound in the current quarter – a tightening labor market, rising incomes, low interest rates, inflation, gas prices as well as consumer confidence all should be positive for spending over coming months.”
4- Are we going to get out of the no-man’s land?
Thursday’s GDP report showed the US economy grew at its slowest pace in two years during the first three months of 2016. While jobs continue to add up and income expands, companies are holding off investments amid global headwinds and volatility. Stan Shipley said that if growth remains around 2% investors would continue to hold off. According to Shipley either an increase of more than 3.5% or less than 1% would hint at better-proven strategies and would provide clearer orientation for investors.