Economic week ahead: Central banks in the spotlight
In addition to these meetings, key data releases covering Europe's services sector, America's labour market and China's trade picture will keep investors on their toes this week. Here is your guide.
Friday's monthly employment situation report is the big item on America's calendar this week. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the release to show that US employers added 160 000 jobs in February, a slight improvement on January's 157 000 positions. The country's unemployment rate likely held steady at 7.9%.
Markets will get a preview of Friday's big number on Wednesday when payroll company ADP releases its monthly employment report. Consensus is for a 173 000 gain, down from 192 000 in January.
More labour sector data will follow on Thursday with the release of Challenger's monthly job-cut report and weekly jobless claims figures from the US's department of labour. Analysts expect initial claims for jobless benefits to have risen to 355 000 last week from 344 000 in the prior week.
Aside from this week's employment sector reports, other notable releases scheduled over the coming days include Tuesday's non-manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management, Wednesday's factory orders data, Thursday's international trade and productivity and costs reports and Friday's wholesale trade figures.
Economists and investors will also be on the lookout for any word from Washington that officials are any closer to a deal to shut off the billions of dollars worth of automatic spending cuts that took effect on Friday. No breakthrough is anticipated any time soon.
To America's north, Canada's central bank will announce its latest monetary policy decision on Wednesday. Consensus is that policymakers will leave the bank's overnight rate on hold at 1.0%.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will announce their latest monetary policy decisions on Thursday. Both banks are expected to leave rates unchanged, at 0.75% and 0.50% respectively.
Tuesday's purchasing managers' index releases covering the services sectors in Russia, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the eurozone as a whole are the big items on Europe's data calendar this week. Most measures are expected to remain unchanged, though Britain's gauge may show some deterioration.
The eurozone's services sector is likely to remain stuck below the 50.0 mark separating expansion from contraction at a reading of 47.3. Germany – the continent's largest economy – is likely to record a score of 54.1, among the highest on the continent. France – Europe's number two economy – is likely to record an abysmal 42.7 mark.
In addition to this week's economic data, economists and investors will be keeping an eye on European bond markets this week. Germany will sell €4.0-billion in five-year debt on Wednesday. Spain and France will follow with bond sales on Thursday, of up to €5.0-billion and €7.5-billion respectively.
Finally, markets will be watching Italy over the coming days for any sign that political parties can piece together a grand coalition following inconclusive parliamentary elections last week. Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano ruled out another election last week.
The Reserve Bank of Australia will announce its latest rates decision on Tuesday. Markets expect officials to leave the bank's overnight rate on hold at 3.0%. Decisions from central banks in Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan's will follow on Thursday. All three banks are expected to leave their benchmark policy rates on hold.
On Friday, Japan will release last month's current account data and China will release last month's trade figures.
Economists surveyed by Market News International expect weak exports and high energy imports to have swollen Japan's current account deficit to a record ¥586.7-billion in February, surpassing the previous high of ¥455.6-billion set in January 2012. Japan's trade deficit likely rose to ¥1.5-trillion last month while the country's income surplus expanded to ¥1.2-trillion.
In China, consensus is that exports likely grew 7.6%, year on year, and that imports fell 8.2% last month. The country's trade balance is expected to swing from a $29.2-billion surplus in January to an $8.9-billion deficit in February.
On Saturday, China will release last month's consumer price index (CPI), producer price index (PPI), industrial production, retail sales and urban fixed investment figures.
On an annual basis, markets expect consumer inflation to have accelerated to 3.0% growth from 2.0% in January and prices at the factory gate to have fallen 1.5%. Industrial production figures are forecast to show a 10.3% year on year rise. Retail sales likely picked up to 15.5% year on year growth and investment probably remained flat at 20.6% year on year growth.
On Monday, the Mexican Institute of Finance Executives manufacturing index is forecast to drop to 51.5 from 52.1 in February. The institute's non-manufacturing likely slipped to 50.5 from 51.7 over the same period. Any reading above 50.0 indicates continued expansion for the sectors.
On Tuesday, Mexico's national statistics agency will report last month's consumer confidence reading. Consumer confidence hit a five-year high of 100.0 in January, but is expected to have fallen slightly to 98.0 in February. On Wednesday, Brazil's central bank will announce its latest monetary policy decision. Policymakers are widely expected to leave the country's benchmark SELIC rate on hold at 7.25% at this month's meeting. The median estimate among economists polled for the central bank's latest survey of market expectations – released last Monday – is that rates will remain unchanged through the end of 2013.
On Thurday, Brazil's statistics agency – the Instituto Brasiliero de Geografia e Estatística – will release January's industrial production figures and Mexico will release February's consumer prices index. Analysts expect to see a 1.5% monthly uptick in Brazil's industrial output following December's flat reading. Annual consumer inflation in Mexico likely accelerated slightly to 3.56% in February from 3.25% in January.
On Friday, Peru's central bank is likely to leave its benchmark rate on hold at 4.25% and Brazil's national index of consumer prices is likely to show that inflation decelerated to 0.50% in February from 0.86% in January. On an annual basis, however, the rate probably rose slightly to 6.21%.
Middle East and Africa
Kenya – East Africa's largest economy – will head to the polls on Monday for presidential and parliamentary elections. According to a recent opinion poll from Ipsos Synovate, incumbent Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga – leader of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy – leads the race, followed by Deputy President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta – head of the Jubilee Coalition. If no clear victory emerges on Monday, a runoff election will take place in April.
Monday will also bring a rates decision in Uganda and February's provisional national treasury figures from South Africa – the continent's largest economy – along with last month's vehicle sales figures from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).
On Tuesday, Kenya will announce the results of its presidential election, Ghana's Finance Minister – Seth Terkper – will present President John Mahama's 2013 budget to Parliament and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) will release January's PPI figures. This week's PPI release will be the first to feature industry-specific sub-indices, covering agriculture, mining, electricity and water and in place of an aggregate measure. The PPI for final manufactured goods will be considered the "headline" index moving forward.
On Wednesday, Mauritius will release February's CPI figures and, on Thursday, Egypt will release last month's gross official reserves. Malawi's central bank will announce its latest monetary policy decision.
Elsewhere on the continent this week, Ghana will report January's gross reserves and December's M2 money supply figures and Uganda will release January's M3 money supply.
Matt Quigley writes a weekly economic preview for the Mail & Guardian. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattquigley.