Economic Calendar – Top 5 Things to Watch This Week

By Noreen Burke

© Reuters.
© Reuters.© Reuters.

By Noreen Burke — It’s set to be a busy week in the markets and while the economic ripple effects from the coronavirus in China, now called Covid-19, is still the biggest issue for investors a large batch of economic data from the U.S., UK and the eurozone will be closely watched. In what will be a holiday shortened week in the U.S. several Fed speakers are scheduled to make appearances, while the minutes of the bank’s latest meeting are due on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. Coronavirus curbs starting to work China says

The number of new coronavirus cases in China fell on Sunday and a health official said the intense efforts to stop its spread were beginning to show results.

China’s latest figures showed 68,500 cases of the illness and 1,665 deaths, most of them in Hubei. On Sunday, China reported 2,009 new cases, down from 2,641 the previous day, and 142 new deaths, down one from 143 the previous day. Outside of China, there have been about 500 cases and four deaths to date.

The economic impact of the epidemic is still unknown. Some analysts have estimated that China’s annual growth could slow to between 4% and 5%, down from the 6% annual growth estimated by the government.

But some investors expect the shortfall in growth to be largely contained to the first quarter, which would give China’s economy room to catch up later this year.

  1. U.S. market holiday

U.S. financial markets will be closed on Monday for Presidents Day. The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will be closed and trading on CME exchanges will be halted, meaning there will be no settlements for gold or crude oil futures contracts.

The main U.S. indexes rose late Friday, notching a gain for the week following a CNBC report, citing sources, that the White House was considering a tax incentive for people in the U.S. to buy stocks.

U.S. stocks had set record highs on Wednesday boosted by hopes for accommodative monetary policy from the Fed after Chairman Jay Powell said he was monitoring the progress of the coronavirus outbreak for its impact on China and the global economy.

  1. Fed minutes; U.S. data

The U.S. central bank is due to release the minutes of its January meeting on Wednesday with investors paying close attention for any mention of the coronavirus impact. In addition to the minutes, there are several Fed policymakers scheduled to speak during the week, including Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, Dallas Fed head Robert Kaplan and Fed Governors Lael Brainard and Richard Clarida.

Away from the Fed, data on housing will dominate the economic calendar, with reports on due on housing starts, building permits and existing home sales. These are expected to indicate that the housing sector is continuing to perform very solidly.

  1. Will UK data point to Boris bounce?

The UK is to release a slew of data this week and while it may still be too early to see any signs of a post-election rebound in the December jobs report due out on Tuesday inflation figures due out on Wednesday and a report on retail sales a day later could point to signs of a ‘Boris bounce’ after the prime ministers emphatic election victory.

Manufacturing and services PMI data for February due for release on Friday will indicate whether the strong uptick seen last month, which helped forestall a Bank of England rate cut, is continuing.

Investors will also continue to watch speculation over whether the UK government will move towards more aggressive fiscal stimulus after the shock resignation of Chancellor Sajid Javid last week, who is to be replaced by Rishi Sunak.

  1. Eurozone data may show first signs of virus impact

After the euro suffered its worst start to a year in five years, economic data this week will be closely watched as reports may give the first signs of the coronavirus impact on the bloc’s economy.

The German ZEW on Tuesday will be the first post-coronavirus indicator while consumer confidence and PMI figures on Thursday and Friday will also attract close attention. A contraction would most likely be reflected in the manufacturing PMI, dampening expectations for an economic rebound and underlining the case for the European Central Bank to keep rates on hold for longer.

The ECB is scheduled to publish the minutes of its January meeting on Thursday and the main focus will likely be on any details to do with its monetary policy strategy review.

–Reuters contributed to this report

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