The Week Ahead: Data floodgates to open once more

October 19, 2013 

Now that the debt default is settled -- until February -- and the government is back to work -- until January-- investors await the return of a steady diet of economic data. Over the 16 days of the government slowdown, statistics ranging from inflation to employment fell victim to Capitol Hill politics. Now the federal data-crunchers are rushing to make up for lost numbers.

Not that stock investors missed them. Over the 12 trading days the federal government was shut down, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index gained 2.3 percent. People were buying stocks, but not based on economic figures. Instead, the markets were left to their own devices -- namely, responding to specific company information and the most recent price. That led stock prices back to record-high prices.

What's an investor to do when there's a void of government economic information? The message is to ignore and enjoy the silence. Millions of people may have been affected by the government slowdown, but apparently not the optimism of profits from big corporations.

The vacuum of government economic information will be filled in the week ahead. Among the reports anticipated are the long-overdue employment report, retail sales and housing sales for September. While the slowdown delayed the release of those reports, it will affect the actual data making up the October figures in the weeks ahead.

Tom Hudson, financial journalist, hosts "The Sunshine Economy" on WLRN-FM in Miami. He is the former co-anchor and managing editor of "Nightly Business Report" on public television.

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