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World Week Ahead: US GDP, consumer confidence

World Week Ahead: US GDP, consumer confidence

By Margreet Dietz

May 26 (BusinessDesk) – A slew of US economic reports including data on housing, consumer confidence, and a second estimate for first-quarter gross domestic product will capture the attention of investors in coming days.

Today US markets are closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

In Europe, all eyes will be on the outcome of European Parliament elections, held yesterday. The results could deter efforts to implement fresh regulations on the financial sector and markets.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is scheduled to speak at a three-day forum on central banking in Portugal, which began yesterday. Investors will scrutinise his comments for any further clues about a potential easing of monetary policy following the ECB’s June meeting, as Draghi signalled earlier this month.

The days ahead will offer reports on German retail sales, due today, followed by German unemployment, and euro-zone confidence, due Tuesday.

Last week the euro dropped 0.5 percent against the US dollar, while equities continued their solid run. Europe’s Stoxx 600 gained 0.8 percent, rising for a sixth straight week. France’s CAC 40 also advanced 0.8 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 1.4 percent. The UK’s FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent.

Wall Street finished on a positive note on Friday, amid signs of better-than-expected manufacturing and existing home sales, while minutes from the latest US Federal Reserve policy meeting cemented expectations the central bank will maintain its supportive monetary stance.

Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.7 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 1.2 percent to close at a record high on Friday, and the Nasdaq Composite index jumped 2.3 percent.

“The sentiment is that the Fed is going to be on hold for a long period of time,” said Jason Rogan, managing director of US government trading at Guggenheim Securities, a New York-based brokerage for institutional investors, told Bloomberg News.

When trading resumes on Wall Street on Tuesday, a concern for investors may be the CBOE’s volatility index which fell on Friday to its lowest in more than 13 months and which at least one market watcher flagged as a potential sign of complacency.

There will be no shortage of comments from US policy makers in the next few days.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart will speak in Baton Rouge. On Thursday outgoing Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto and incoming Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will talk at a conference on inflation and monetary policy, while Kansas City Fed President Esther George speaks in Stanford, California.

On Friday, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, Philadelphia Fed boss Charles Plosser and San Francisco Fed chief John Williams will also speak in Stanford.

The US Treasury is scheduled to auction US$108 billion in fixed- and floating-rate notes this week, according to Bloomberg News.

As for fresh clues on the state of world’s largest economy: Tuesday has durable goods orders, FHFA house price index, S&P Case-Shiller home price index, PMI services, consumer confidence, the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index, and the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey.

On Thursday, a second estimate is expected to show that the US economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years, according to a Bloomberg survey. In the first estimate, US GDP grew by 0.1 percent in the first three months of 2014.

Also due on Thursday are weekly jobless claims and the pending home sales index, followed by Chicago PMI, and consumer sentiment on Friday.

So far in 2014, the Dow has risen 1.2 percent, the S&P 500 has increased 3.7 percent, and the Nasdaq has added 0.8 percent.


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