Inflation, jobs top stocks concerns

New York, March 27 | Updated: Mar 28 2005, 05:30am hrs
Stocks are in the grip of inflation fears now that the Federal Reserve has declared price escalation a real risk, so investors will give next weeks reams of economic data especially Fridays March employment report extra scrutiny.

Wall Streets mantra will be data, data and more data over the next five trading days, the final week of a losing first quarter so far for the major US stock indexes. On Wednesday, the US government will release the final assessment of the 2004 fourth-quarter gross domestic product. You want to see economic news that is good, but not too good, said Alexander Paris, president of Barrington Research in Chicago. On the economy, sometimes good is good, and sometimes good is bad. Right now, dull is good. They want to see the economy continue to grow, but not too fast. The market has been worried about inflation, added Edgar Peters, chief investment officer of PanAgora Asset Management, in Boston.

The firm has about $15 billion under management. The Fed is saying they are concerned about (inflation) pressures that are starting to build, and they are saying if it continues, they would have to pick up the pace of rate hikes. Mr Peters said he believed the selling prompted by the Feds comments on Tuesday about inflation pressures picking up was overdone, positioning the stock market for, at least, a technical bounce.