Can auto and back-to-school sales carry the economy? Here's what to watch next week

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, which means the warm, lazy days of August are over (though the S&P crossing 2,000 and economic growth of 4.2% hardly warrant the use of ‘lazy’). It’s time to breathe some fresh autumn air into your portfolio, and Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task, Jeff Macke and Rick Newman are here to preview some of what you should be looking out for.

Auto Sales

Light vehicle sales are released at 2pm on Wednesday, September 3rd. “We could see a little bit of a dip here,” says Rick Newman. “Auto sales have been a real high point for the economy; they’ve been the main thing holding up consumer spending and indications are they could fall back just a little bit for August.”

Even a slight dip in auto sales matters because it indicates retail sales could also be disappointing.

If auto sales remain strong, says Newman, it will be because automakers are ramping up discounts. “They’re kind of getting back to that old market where they had to find slick ways to move the metal.”

Back to School

It’s a great time of year to be a retailer: back-to-school shopping season. That might be enough to save retailers this time, says Jeff Macke. “We’ve got a really mixed bag,” he says. “Because Tiffany (TIF) and Signet Jewelers (SIG) came out big this week, and if those two guys are hitting it, it’s really hard to make the case that the consumer's not good.” But Macke’s not positive apparel sales have been great and companies such as Target (TGT) and Dollar General (DG) haven’t been flying lately either, he says.

The Jobs Report

The biggest economic report of the week will be the employment data for August, which will be released Friday, September 5th at 8:30am ET. Yahoo Finance will have live coverage.

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