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BBH: key U.S. economic data to be retail sales, jobless claims

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Retail sales and jobless claims will be the key U.S. economic reports this week, and the data are likely to continue suggesting “unprecedented” speed of a recession, said Brown Brothers Harriman. Traders will be watching both reports to gauge how much economic harm has occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The U.S. data highlight this week will be March retail sales Wednesday,” BBH said. Analysts reported that headline sales are expected to plunge 8% from the prior month, while sales excluding autos are expected to fall 5%. “As one of the few high-frequency indicators, weekly jobless claims will continue to be of interest,” BBH said. Nearly 17 million Americans have filed for initial jobless claims during the last three reporting weeks, making this one of the more closely watched economic indicators for clues on what was happening before monthly reports started coming out for March. “Consensus sees another 5 million initial claims to follow last week’s 6.606 million,” BBH said. “If so, that would mean that nearly 22 million have lost their jobs over the past four weeks.” If the jobless claims come out as forecast on Thursday, this will mean the next U.S. employment report will show nonfarm payrolls fell by around 22 million, BBH said. “The speed and scale of this recession is simply unprecedented,” BBH said.

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