Now that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has reiterated yet again that the US central bank plans to "proceed cautiously" as it moves to inch interest rates higher and toward more normal levels, incoming data will be less about how it will impact the Fed's rate-hike timetable and more about what it says about the health of the US economy.
And a spate of key data set for release the rest of the week will give Wall Street fresh color on whether the economy's slowdown in the first quarter is just a blip or something more serious. Following signs that consumer spending has been weak so far in 2016, the Atlanta Federal Reserve has downgraded its estimate for first-quarter growth to 0.6% from 1.4%. But other data, such as consumer confidence, job growth and housing, tell a more upbeat story.
The lastest reading on jobs released early Wednesday was solid. Payroll processor ADP said private employers created 200 new jobs in March, in line with estimates, which bodes well for the government jobs report Friday.
Next up for Wall Street is fresh March manufacturing data in the Chicago region set for release at 9:45 am ET.
But a slew of reports out Friday will provide a much better picture of how the US economy is doing. The biggie is the March employment report. March manufacturing data is also on tap, as are readings on February construction and March vehicle sales.
Talk of a US recession died down last month. Now Wall Street wants to know if the economy can break out above its tepid annual growth rate of 2% to 2.5%.