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Investing Specialists

Economic Data: Muddled Almost Beyond Comprehension

Next week's employment report for November could show some significant effects from Sandy.

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This week, Hurricane Sandy's destructive powers swept their way through a series of reports, including new home sales, personal income, November same-store sales, and October consumption figures, rendering them nearly useless. Further complicating matters, personal income data was revised sharply downward all the way back to April, along with consumption data for August-September. Then there is the violent up-and-down swings in auto production (at least, according to government data) that took 0.5% of third-quarter results. Did I mention that gasoline prices have been acting like a giant yo-yo, too?

Unfortunately, the data is likely to remain muddled for at least another couple of months. The next piece of storm-addled data is likely to be next week's employment report for November, which could show some significant effects from Sandy. In fact, one can't rule out the possibility that we might potentially lose jobs in November, and October numbers could be subject to downward revisions.

Robert Johnson, CFA does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.