A lack of economic data reports next week will leave investors parsing the words of various Federal Reserve members for clues whether the Fed might be leaning toward dialing back its stimulus polices later this month.
Friday saw the release of solid November jobs report with the U.S. adding 203,000 jobs and the headline unemployment rate falling to 7%, its lowest level in five years.
The Fed has been scrutinizing monthly labor reports for month with policy makers stressing no changes in policy until the jobs market has not only stabilized but strengthened significantly.
November’s report comes on top of a strong October report (204,000 jobs added), leading to widespread speculation that the mood may be right for the Fed to announce at its meeting later this month that it will begin tapering its monthly bond purchase program known as quantitative easing.
Three members of the Fed policy-setting Federal Open Markets Committee are scheduled to give speeches on Monday: Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher.
The Fed is meeting on Dec. 17 and 18 and a policy statement will be released at the conclusion of the two-day session.
Also next week is the release Tuesday of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index; separate reports Thursday on import and export prices and business inventories; and the producer price index on Friday.