By Adam Shell, USA TODAY
NEW YORK - The 16-day government shutdown put some key economic data releases in a 747-like holding pattern over the Wall Street runway.
The data trail that serves as the bloodstream for markets went silent for awhile. But it starts to rev back up in a big way Tuesday with the release of the September employment report, which was initially scheduled for release on Oct. 4 - or what turned out to be Day 4 of the government shutdown.
Investors will be closely watching to see how many jobs were created last month and whether the unemployment rate, currently 7.3%, ticked up or down. Before the shutdown, the September jobs report was viewed as a key piece of data that the Federal Reserve would analyze before making a decision on when to start dialing back its investor-friendly bond-buying program.
EMPLOYMENT: Higher gains forecast in Tuesday's jobs report
But most Fed watchers and some Fed members themselves have ruled out the start of tapering at the central bank's meeting later this month or even in December, in part because the shutdown harmed the economy. Many think the Fed won't taper until 2014.
But that doesn't mean the number of jobs created in September (the consensus among economists is 180,000, up from 169,000 in August) or the unemployment rate (expected to dip to 7.2% from 7.3%) will be totally ignored by the Fed and market participants, says Joe Deaux, an economics analyst at TheStreet. "I don't think Tuesday's jobs number is unimportant," he says.