As Libya remains in flux with implications for the price of oil if not supply to the United States, the 112th Congress returns to Washington ready to hold a slew of hearings on topics of interest to advisors and, perhaps, finalize another continuing resolution to keep the country running past its weekend shutdown date.
Key economic reports that likely will move the markets this week include the February jobs report on Friday and the Federal Reserve’s beige book on Wednesday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers his semiannual reports on monetary policy to the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday, while Treasury Secretary Geithner talks about mortgage finance reform and the Department of Labor holds two days of hearings on defining "fiduciary."
On Monday, Feb. 28, economic reports include pending home sales from the National Association of Realtors (they fell 2.8% in January), personal income and spending from the Federal Reserve for January and the Chicago purchasing managers’ index for February (new orders “nudged upward”). Both the House and Senate return from their recess; over the weekend, it appeared that there might be a bipartisan compromise brewing between the Republican and Democratic leadership that would keep the government operating for at least two weeks past the March 4 CR deadline. Also on Monday, the Senate will begin debate on a patent reform bill.
On Tuesday, March 1, the House of Representatives begins debate on a two-week continuing resolution that includes some $4 billion in Republican-desired cuts. The Federal Reserve’s Bernanke delivers his monetary policy testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, while Treasury’s Geithner testifies on mortgage reform before the House Financial Services Committee. The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus, D-Mont., will hold the first hearing of the 112th Congress on reforming the tax code. Subsequent hearings on such reform will be held throughout the year, according to a Senate Finance staff member.
Also on March 1, the Dept. of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) begins the first of two days of hearings on the definition of fiduciary. Economic reports include construction spending for January and auto sales for February. Egypt’s stock market is due to reopen.
On Wednesday, March 2, the Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book on current economic conditions, while Chairman Bernanke heads to the other side of the Capitol to testify on monetary policy before the full House Financial Services Committee. That committee’s Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee will hold a hearing in the afternoon on “The Effect of Dodd-Frank on Small Financial Institutions and Small Businesses.” The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on Preventing Health Care Fraud. And in San Francisco, Apple is expected to introduce the iPad 2.
On Thursday, March 3, comes the weekly report from the Dept. of Labor on new unemployment insurance claims, and retail sales for February from the Census Bureau, while the European Central Bank (ECB) holds a monetary policy meeting in Brussels.