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US FOMC minutes (Aug)
US CBO Budget and Economic Outlook
US housing sales (Jul)
EZ ‘flash’ PMI surveys (Aug)
GDP (Q2, 1st revision)
Index of services (Jun)
Public finances (Jul)
CBI Distributive Trades Survey (Aug)
Sanguine trade in thin summer markets ...While financial market activity slips deeper into its summer lull, thin market conditions have combined with a more sanguine outlook. Equity markets have risen, including a near 2% rise in the FTSE €300 index which is at highest since early April. Peripheral euro area bond spreads have tightened and ‘core’ bond markets sold off, including the UK ten-year gilt where the yield has risen by 15bps on the previous week. These movements occurred against, on balance, slightly better economic news. The coming week sees a key UK GDP release and in the US attention remains focused on the monetary policy outlook in the light of upcoming fiscal tightening.
UK GDP set for upward revision ...Domestically the focus returns to the extreme uncertainty and volatility surrounding official data, with the first revision to Q2 GDP due on Friday. The initial estimate of -0.7% (qoq) surprised the market, but included estimated declines for industrial and construction activity that have subsequently been revised higher, with official figures appearing to have initially overestimated the scale of the bank holiday effect. We suspect this will be mirrored in services (latest update also Friday) and should result in an upward revision to overall GDP growth to -0.4%. This would be the biggest revision to a first estimate since the last Jubilee bank holiday effect a decade ago. It is also in line with our view a month ago that GDP would be just below -0.2% after the initial estimate. As chart 1 shows, the ‘true’ economic picture only emerges over a longer time horizon. We suspect further upward revisions are likely over this time scale. The coming week also posts the latest public finances update. These should show continued slippage in the finances against the previous year.
FOMC minutes prelude to Jackson Hole, ‘fiscal cliff‘ focus ...Wednesday’s FOMC minutes from the August meeting will be scanned for clues for the Fed’s next policy decision on September 13, particularly ahead of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s influential Jackson Hole address at the end of this month. Economic signals have been mixed. Survey evidence remains weak, but official data have been firmer, including retail sales, industrial production and labour market releases. Housing data have also improved - often a harbinger of wider economic recovery. We await the coming week’s home sales numbers in the light of firming NAHB evidence. Fed officials have expressed differing views on the outlook for monetary policy, but few voting members have spoken. The outlook for the ‘fiscal cliff’ is pivotal. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the currently legislated fiscal tightening at 4½% of GDP, resulting in a 1½% contraction in GDP in H1 2013. The CBO’s latest Budget and Economic Outlook on Wednesday will update these forecasts. Any significant change could have a marked impact on markets, to the extent that this influences market perception about the prospect for further QE.
Euro area economic outlook remains subdued ... This week’s official estimates confirming renewed contraction across the euro area in Q2 will be superseded by surveys this week signalling the outlook for Q3. Our global team forecasts a modest improvement in the ‘flash’ PMI estimates for August, in part reflecting the reaction to the ECB’s latest policy statement. However, these surveys continue to suggest contraction across the euro area as a whole, and the currency union looks set to contract across H2 2012. The sanguine outlook largely appears to reflect diminishing concerns over the euro crisis. Key will be whether this more upbeat phase persists as euro area policy makers reconvene in early September.
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