Next Week

January 23, 2009

The last week of every month is stuffed with data releases, and a number of central bank policy meetings are scheduled, too.  The week has two holidays of note, Australia Day on Monday and the Chinese New Year, which will be observed in several Asian centers for most of next week.

It is widely agreed that that an end to falling U.S. housing prices is required for this recession to end, so next week’s trio of new home sales, existing home sales and the Case-Shiller house price index will hold particular interest.  But the main attraction among scheduled U.S. releases will be the first estimate of fourth-quarter GDP growth, which is due Friday and expected to show a drop of between 5% and 6% at an annualized rate.  Other U.S. indicators next week include the index of leading economic indicators, consumer confidence (both the Conference Board and U. Michigan measures), durable goods, the employment cost index, the Richmond Fed index, the Chicago PMI and weekly jobless claims and chain store sales.

Japan releases corporate service prices, the Shoko Chukin small business index, retail sales, household spending and income, unemployment, job offers, consumer prices, housing starts, construction orders, and the manufacturing PMI index.

Euroland figures will cover the current account, money and credit growth, economic sentiment, industrial sector confidence, consumer confidence, service sector sentiment, CPI inflation, and unemployment.

A considerable body of other figures are due from individual members of the common currency community.  Germany releases the IFO index of business sentiment, import prices, consumer confidence, unemployment, its CPI, retail sales, and the retail PMI.  France announces housing starts and permits, consumer sentiment, producer prices and its retail PMI.  Investors also will be treated to Italian consumer sentiment, producer prices and business sentiment, as well as Spanish retail sales and consumer prices, and Belgian consumer price inflation.

The really big week each month for British data is the one just passed, but next week brings various mortgage and other lending data, consumer confidence, and the widely followed Nationwide house price index.  Swiss consumer confidence and leading economic indicators are due, and from Scandinavia comes Swedish trades and retail sales and Norwegian unemployment and retail sales.

Canada’s annual budget will be delivered at 21:00 GMT on Tuesday, and producer prices, raw material prices, and monthly GDP are scheduled next week as well.

Australian producer and consumer prices come out on back-to-back days, and that country’s figures on private credit and leading economic index are due also next week.

The FOMC holds its first meeting in the post-interest rate cut era.  There are of course other ways to loosen monetary policy, but the rate target range of 0-0.25% is essentially at zero.  In these circumstances, even greater information will need to be put into the written statement.  A full percentage point rate cut, if not more, is expected from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.  Central bank meetings will be held also in India, The Philippines, Poland, Colombia, Israel, and Hong Kong.  Most will end with announcements of rate cuts of around 50 basis points.  Minutes from a Bank of Japan meeting are due on Tuesday.  Several ECB officials, but not Trichet, have scheduled speaking engagements.

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