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Economic week ahead: Spain bailout hopes

Matt Quigley

European events are likely to set the tone for global markets this week as speculation mounts that Spain may request a formal bailout from neighbours.

A protester holds a banner depecting Prime Miniuster Mariano Rajoy dressed as pinocchio reading

This request would remove a major source of uncertainty from global markets and allow the European Central Bank's long-awaited bond-buying programme to commence.

Elsewhere on the docket, housing data from the United States, confidence measures in Europe as well as a series of key data releases in Asia, Latin America and Africa will give markets plenty of information to mull over. Here is your complete guide to the economic week ahead.

North America
The Conference Board's latest consumer confidence index reading is the first major release on America's packed data calendar this week. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones forecast a jump to 65 in September from 60.6 in August.

This week's housing data deluge will also begin on Tuesday. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect the S&P/Case-Shiller housing price index (HPI) to show a 0.9% monthly rise and the Federal Housing Administration's HPI to post a 0.8% gain. Both releases cover July.

Last month's new home sales figures will follow on Wednesday. Markets suspect the data will confirm that a gradual recovery in America's housing sector remains underway. Consensus is for a 2.2% increase in sales.

On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors will release their housing price index for August. Markets expect a flat reading following July's 2.4% jump.

Also on Thursday, officials will release last month's durable goods orders – an indicator of how busy factories are likely to be over the coming months – and final gross domestic product (GDP) readings for the second quarter. Economists expect last month's durable goods orders – excluding volatile transportation orders – to show a 0.2% rise following a 0.4% decline in July. GDP is seen rising 1.7%, down from 2% growth in the previous three months.

Finally, on Friday, the government's monthly personal income and outlays report is expected to show that personal incomes rose 0.2% in August, down from 0.3% in July. Consumer spending is seen rising 0.5%, up from 0.4% in the previous month.

Europe
Spain will remain in focus this week. Speculation is mounting that officials may announce an economic reform plan on Thursday that would pave the way for a new rescue plan for the country and allow unlimited buying of the country's debt by the European Central Bank.

Beyond this potential announcement, markets are likely to focus on a series of business and consumer confidence measures slated for release over the coming days. On Monday, Germany's Ifo Institute will release its business climate index for September. It is expected to fall for a fifth straight month.

On Tuesday, Germany's GfK consumer sentiment index is seen holding steady for the second straight month. In France, INSEE's business confidence indicator is forecast to remain near a two-year low. And in Italy, the ISAE consumer confidence index is predicted to remain stable.

On Wednesday, INSEE's consumer confidence indicator is expected to fall slightly, from 87 in August to 86 in September. And, on Thursday, ISAE's business confidence index is seen slipping from 87.2 to 86.

Also on Thursday, a series of confidence measures for the troubled eurozone as a whole are likely to make for discouraging reading. The European Commission's business climate, consumer sentiment and industrial sentiment indices are all seen holding relatively steady in negative territory.

Finally, on Friday, attention will shift to the results of an independent stress test of Spain's banking sector. The analysis is expected to reveal that the country's troubled banks likely need an additional €60-billion in assistance.

Asia
Asia's extremely full economic week kicks off on Monday with unemployment, commercial sales and industrial output figures from Taiwan, budget data from the Philippines and consumer price index (CPI) readings in Singapore.

On Tuesday, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand and New Zealand will issue their latest trade statistics and Australia will report on the results of its financial stability review.

On Wednesday, Singapore will report industrial production statistics. Thailand will release manufacturing production figures.

On Thursday, Taiwan's Council for Economic Planning and Development will report their leading economic index and National Bank New Zealand will unveil its latest business confidence readings.

On Friday, Japan – the world's second largest economy – will release last month's consumer inflation, employment, industrial output, retail sales and housing starts data.

Analysts surveyed by Market News International forecast a 0.2% year on year decline in consumer prices, the fourth straight fall for Japan's CPI. The country's unemployment rate is expected to remain steady at 4.3% and household spending is seen rising 1.2%, year on year, its seventh straight monthly rise.

Industrial output is predicted to fall 0.4%, month on month. If the forecast proves accurate, it would mark the second straight monthly fall in output for the island nation. Retail sales are expected to have remained flat in August following a 0.7% year on year fall in July.

Wrapping up the week, officials will release August housing starts. Economists expect that builders commenced construction on 7.1% fewer houses last month than they did in August 2011.

Latin America
On Monday, Brazil will release consumer confidence and tax collections data and Argentina will release consumer confidence and trade figures. In Brazil, markets expect to see a fifth consecutive drop in the Getulio Vargas Foundation's (FGV) consumer confidence index this month and a BRL9.4-billion drop in tax collections from July to August.

In Argentina, Torcuato di Tella University's consumer confidence index is seen rebounding from last month's 42.74, its lowest level since March 2010. Separately, economists surveyed by the country's central bank expect the country's statistics agency to report an August trade surplus of $1.07-billion.

On Tuesday, Mexico will release its global indicator of economic activity (IGAE) and Brazil will release current account and foreign investment figures. Markets expect Mexico's monthly IGAE – a GDP proxy – to have risen 4.05% in July, an improvement on June's 3.79% rise. Brazil's current account deficit is seen narrowing to $2.25-billion in August from $3.77-billion in July. Foreign investment into the country is seen dropping from a record $8.4-billion in July to $4-billion in August.

On Wednesday, Mexico's latest trade figures are expected to show that the country's trade deficit increased to $556-million in August and Brazil's National Monetary Council (NMC) is expected to announce that it will leave the country's long-term interest rate on hold at 5.5%.

Finally, on Friday, Columbia's central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged. Chile will release copper production, retail sales and employment statistics. Brazil will present its budget picture and Argentina will report construction activity.

Africa
On Monday, the Central Bank of Mauritius will announce its latest interest rates decision. Some analysts expect policymakers to lower the bank's 4.9% repo rate in response to slowing inflation and slowing growth, but others are less sure. A recent poll by Reuters showed economists split in their assessments.

On Tuesday, Statistics South Africa will release July's tourism accommodation, transport and food and beverage statistics along with liquidations data for August. Quarterly financial statistics for the second quarter and the producer price index (PPI) for August will follow from the agency on Thursday.

Markets expect PPI data to show that prices at the factory gate rose 0.7% on a monthly basis in August, down from 1.6% growth in August.

On Friday, the South African Reserve Bank's monthly release of data is expected to show that the amount of private sector credit extended in August increased 7.95%, year on year, down from 8.34% growth in the previous month. Money supply is expanding at an 8.10% annual clip, down from 8.26% in July. Separately, preliminary trade data from the South African Revenue Service is expected to show that South Africa's trade deficit narrowed from R6.7-billion in July to R6-billion in August.

Elsewhere on the continent this week, Kenya is expected to release second quarter gross domestic product data and July's overseas remittances figures. Ghana may release short-term reserves data for August and money supply data for July. Namibia will report foreign reserves and Nigeria will issue second quarter foreign trade figures.

Matt Quigley writes a weekly economic preview for the Mail & Guardian Online. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattquigley.


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