Payrolls, ISM data may steer US stocks this week

The unemployment rate the US is expected to reach in February, compared to 9.7 per cent in January. (SUPPLIED)

Payrolls could give the US stock market some direction this week as investors comb through the key report on one of the economy's weakest areas.

More news on Greece's debt problems could also fire up investors after a week of little movement in stocks, with the market ending Friday's choppy session slightly higher in light trading volume due to a heavy winter snowstorm that hit New York City and much of the US Northeast, forcing businesses, schools and transportation systems to close. It was New York City's second major snow storm this month.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) will give Wall Street vital information on manufacturing and services this week, when it releases its February indexes on those sectors. But February's non-farm payrolls report from the US Labour Department will be the main event as job losses continue to give investors reason to question the sustainability of the economy's recovery.

"The market is looking to move off centre… and the employment report is probably going to be the most important of the week," said Paul Mendelsohn, Chief Investment Strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

"If that number comes in weak, it really confirms the strong unemployment claims data we've seen. If it comes a little bit better, it would indicate maybe we're creating jobs at a fast enough pace to offset the claims," he said. Besides payrolls, Wall Street will have a flurry of other numbers to mull over, including January personal income and spending, as well as February domestic car and truck sales.

 

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