Why Investors Are Anxious About This Week's Job Report

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Unemployment Benefits
Mike Groll/APJob seekers at a recent job fair in Hudson, N.Y.
By Alex Rosenberg | @CNBCAlex

Don't let the short week fool you. There's big news ahead for the American economy.

With Independence Day falling on July Fourth this year, which happens to be a Friday, the June employment report will be released one day earlier than normal. And market participants (at least the ones who haven't already headed to the Hamptons) will be watching with great interest, because a supremely weak revised first quarter GDP number leaves open some tricky questions about the state of the U.S. economy.

"This is a huge deal this week in light of the fact that we got such awful GDP numbers last week," said trader Jim Iuorio of TJM Institutional Services. "People have got to get some clarity from these numbers."

On Wednesday, the third estimate for GDP growth in the first quarter was revised down to a 2.9 percent decline, significantly worse than the prior estimate of a 1 percent decline. And while the weather and other somewhat random factors have been shouldered with the blame, the print is still seen as raising the stakes on Thursday.

"Even though the Q1 GDP figure is old news, the financial markets will need to see continued strength in the current quarter to become confident that last quarter's results were truly an aberration," wrote Deutsche Bank (DB) chief U.S. economist Joseph LaVorgna in a recent note. "In this regard, the June employment report ... takes on added significance."

To be sure, LaVorgna is indeed expecting the payrolls report to confirm that Q1 GDP ought to be more or less ignored. He predicts a 225,000 increase in non-farm payrolls, which is above the consensus.

"The Street is looking for stability here," said Michael Block, the chief strategist at Rhino Trading Partners, a New York-based broker-dealer and research provider. "The Street consensus looks very similar to what we saw in May. Expectations are very grounded. No one's really looking for anything to rock the boat here."

If the numbers miss on the downside, however, the ramifications could be serious, warns Chicago-based trader Jeff Kilburg.

"I think you need to be careful this week," he said. "This unnatural calm cannot last forever."


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