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Key Events And Issues In The Week Ahead

Via Goldman and SocGen

While the news flow is dominated by Cyprus, it will be important to not lose sight of the developments in Italy, where we will watch the steps taken towards forming a government.

The key release this week is likely to be US consumer confidence. Keep a watchful eye on the health of the consumer in the US after the tax rises in January. So far, household optimism and demand has held up better than expected. The IP data from Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Japan will provide a useful gauge on activity in the region and what it reflects about global activity, however Chinese New Year effects will need to be accounted for in the process.

Monday 25 March

  • Singapore CPI (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: +4.1% yoy. Last: +3.6% yoy.
  • Taiwan Industrial Production (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus:-9.2% yoy. Last: +19.2% yoy.
  • Also of interest: Fed Chairman Bernanke, NY Fed President Dudley speak.

Tuesday 26 March

  • New Zealand Trade Balance (Feb): Bloomberg Consensus:-NZD12mn. Last: -NZD305mn.
  • Singapore Industrial Production (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: -7.0% yoy. Last: -0.4% yoy.
  • US Durable Goods Orders (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: 3.9%. Last: -4.9%.
  • US Consumer Confidence (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus: 67.5. Last: 69.6.
  • Also of interest: Philippines Trade Balance (Jan).

Wednesday 27 March

  • Korea Consumer Confidence Index (Mar). Last: 102.
  • Thailand Manufacturing Production Index (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: 3.0%. Last: 10.1.
  • Germany GKF Consumer confidence (Apr). Bloomberg Consensus: 5.9. Last: 5.9.
  • Sweden NIER Business and Consumer Survey (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus: 97.0. Previous 94.7.
  • Switzerland KOF Leading Indicator (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus: 1.04. Previous 1.03.
  • Euro area Harmonised CPI Mar (Flash): Bloomberg Consensus: Previous: +1.8%.
  • Euro area Consumer Confidence Mar (Final). Bloomberg Consensus: -23.5 Previous: -23.5 (Flash).
  • Canada CPI (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: +0.7%mom. Last: 0.1%mom.

Thursday 28 March

  • Korea Current Account (Feb). Last: USD2253.6mn.
  • China Industrial Profits Jan-Feb. Last: +5.3% yoy.
  • Taiwan Central Bank Policy Meeting. Bloomberg Consensus 1.875%. Last: 1.875%.
  • India Current Account Balance 4Q. Last: -US$22.3 bn.
  • UK GFK Consumer Confidence (Mar): Bloomberg Consensus: -27.0. Previous: -26.0.
  • Germany Unemployment (Change) (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus:-2k. Previous: -3k.
  • Italy Business Confidence (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus: 88.0. Previous: 88.5.
  • US GDP Q4 - third release. Bloomberg Consensus +0.5%qoqann.  Last:+0.1%qoqann.
  • US Chicago PMI (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus: 56.5. Last: 56.8.
  • Also of interest: Japanese retail trade (Mar), Australia Private sector credit, India fiscal deficit.

Friday 29 March

  • Japan CPI (Feb): Bloomberg Consensus: -0.7%yoy. Last: -0.3%yoy.
  • Japan Industrial production (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: 2.5%mom. Last: 0.3%mom.
  • Korea Industrial Production (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: -5.3% yoy. Last: +7.3% yoy.
  • Thailand Exports (Feb). Last: +15.6% yoy.
  • US Personal Income (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: +0.9%. Last: -3.6%.
  • US Personal Spending (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: +0.6%. Last: +0.2%.
  • US Core PCE Price Index (Feb). Bloomberg Consensus: +0.5%. Last: Flat.
  • US Reuters/U. Mich Consumer Sentiment—Final (Mar). Bloomberg Consensus: 72.7. Last: 71.8

TOP ISSUES FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

WAITING FOR A NEW ITALIAN GOVERNMENT

President Napolitano last week officially asked Mr Bersani to attempt to form a government following the fragmented election outcome on 24 and 25 February. It is no easy task and weekend press reports are not encouraging. We expect Mr Bersani to inform President Napolitano at the end of this week of whether he believes he can be successful. The best case is that some form of compromise can be reached that will allow Italy to move ahead with a minimalist reform programme, potentially including electoral reform (although electoral reform will not be easy as each party wants something different).

Should Bersani fail, which remains a very real possibility, President Napolitano is likely to put in pace a caretaker government until new elections can then be held (September seems the most likely timing). New elections, however, could very well see further fragmentation. Moreover, even if Bersani manages to form a government, the risk is that it will have a very short lifespan.

MARKET ISSUES: Italy on “policy auto-pilot” seems to be the base case currently discounted by markets. As also highlighted by our Fixed Income strategists, risks to this scenario are clearly biased to the downside.

NO US GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

The risk of a US government shutdown was taken off the table with both the House and the Senate approving legislation to fund the government to the end of the fiscal year (30 September). Negotiations over the FY14 budget continue and the next key date now is 18 May when the debt ceiling is reinstated.

MARKET ISSUES: Fiscal policy is likely to be off the market radar screens for now. As the debt ceiling approaches, lots of headlines can be expected but we see the risk of the US going to a technical default as very low.

CROSS ATLANTIC DIVIDE TO CONTINUE

Our US data guru Brian Jones has a number of above-consensus calls in what promises to be another week in the sweet spot for the US. Full details of previews can be found in our Week Ahead Calendar, but highlights include February durable goods orders at +6.0 mom, January Case-Shiller home prices at 1.29% mom and Q4 GDP at +0.7%. March sentiment surveys are expected to ease lower, but remain firmly in expansion territory. Consumer confidence is the one negative where we look for a drop to 63.5 in the Conference Board reading.

Turning to the euro area, the disappointing PMI readings last week should be echoed in the EU Commission’s March Economic Sentiment Index. February M3 data, moreover, are expected to show still weak bank lending data. The next bank lending survey on 24 April will further insight on credit supply conditions. Not all is gloom and doom, however, as we expect French households to have increased spending by 0.3% mom in February, after a slump of -0.8% in January.

MARKET ISSUES: Although the FOMC statement and press conference offered some further input on when asset purchases will stop, clarifying the condition of “significant improvement in the outlook for the labour market”, overall guidance remains vague. For now, the US is in the sweet spot. Hope is that US recovery will suffice to pull the euro area out of the doldrums. In our opinion, much more is  required and we expect the cross Atlantic gap to remain wide in 2013.

MIXED DATA FROM ASIA

Some better data out of Japan, and notably better industrial production (we look for +4.0% mom in
February) should help underpin hopes that the Japanese economy is finally bottoming out. Looking over to Korea, however, we expect to see further confirmation of a soft patch in both the February industrial production data and the March sentiment indicators.

MARKET ISSUES: Our forecasts suggest that the recent picture of mixed data from Asia will continue this week. Overall, however, the picture remains one of recovery albeit modest.