Economic week ahead: Chugging along
Meanwhile, political negotiation in Italy, a European Union summit and central bank meetings from South Korea to Kenya will give economists and investors plenty to watch.
On Tuesday, markets expect the National Federation of Independent Businesses's small business optimism index to climb to a still depressed reading of 90.1 from last month's 88.9.
Wednesday will bring February's retail sales figures and import prices and January's business inventories data. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect February's retail sales figures to show a 0.5% monthly rise, up from January's 0.1% growth. Excluding automobiles and petrol, sales likely climbed 0.3% compared to 0.2% in January. Import prices probably grew by 0.6% in February, the same monthly rate observed in January. Consensus is the business inventories climbed 0.45% in January following December's 0.1% rise.
On Thursday, initial claims for jobless benefits are expected to have climbed to 350 000 in the week ended March 9 from 340 000 in the previous week. February's producer price index is forecast to show a 0.7% monthly rise, up from 0.2% in January. And America's latest current account data will likely show that the country's current account deficit widened to $113.1-billion in the fourth quarter from $107.5-billion in the third.
Finally, on a full Friday, economists and investors will turn their attention to February's consumer price index (CPI), industrial production and consumer sentiment figures. After no change in January, consumer inflation likely rose 0.6% in February. Industrial production is expected to have climbed 0.4% last month after expanding 0.1% in January. And the Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index readings for March may edge up slightly to 78.0 from February's 77.6.
Political events are likely to overshadow economic data in Europe this week. Global markets will be watching political leaders in Italy for any sign that they are making progress in forming a new government. A key test of sentiment toward Europe's fourth largest economy will come on Tuesday when the country auctions short-term bonds and Wednesday when longer-term debt comes up for sale.
The European Union's negotiating team will return to Cyprus on Tuesday to discuss the potential terms of Europe's latest sovereign bailout. Both sides would like to put a deal in place by the end of March but remain at odds over how bank depositors should be treated.
European Union leaders will gather for a summit on Thursday and Friday. Italy, Cyprus and the region's myriad growth, debt and unemployment woes are likely to dominate the discussions.
Major items on the data calendar include the latest industrial production figures from the continent's second and third largest economies, France and the United Kingdom. Markets expect France's industrial production figures, due on Monday, to show a 2.1% year on year decline. The UK is expected to show a 1.8% year on year decline on Tuesday.
Eurozone industrial production statistics will follow on Wednesday. Industrial output in the 17-member currency bloc is expected to shown no monthly growth and a 1.8% decline from a year earlier in January.
India – Asia's third largest economy – will report last month's trade figures on Monday. The country's trade gap widened to $20-billion in January from $17.7-billion in December, but is expected to have fallen back to $17.7-billion in February.
On Tuesday, Japan – Asia's second largest economy – will release February's corporate goods price index (CGPI) and India will release January's industrial production numbers. Economists surveyed by Market News International expect Japan's corporate goods price index will decline 0.1% from a year earlier following January's 0.2% decline. If the median forecast proves accurate, February will be the 11th consecutive month in which the index fell. Analysts expect India's Index of Industrial Production to record a 1.2% year on year rise following December's unexpected 0.6% contraction in industrial output.
On Thursday, India will release its main measure of inflation, the wholesale price index (WPI). The WPI eased to 6.62% year on year growth in January from 7.18% in December and is expected to have slowed further to 6.59% in February.
Elsewhere in the region, central bankers in New Zealand and South Korea will announce their latest rates decisions this week. New Zealand's Governor Graeme Wheeler is expected to leave the country's cash rate on hold at 2.5% on Wednesday. Consensus is that South Korea's rate will remain unchanged at 2.75% following Thursday's meeting.
Latin America's data week will begin on Monday with consumer confidence and vehicle sales numbers from Colombia, Venezuela's unemployment rate and Peru's trade balance.
Mexico – the region's number two economy – will release January's industrial production figures on Tuesday. Output unexpectedly fell 1.1% from a year earlier in December, but consensus is that production improved to 1.1% growth during the first month of 2013.
Brazil – Latin America's largest economy – will release January's retail sales figures on Thursday. Core retail sales – excluding automobiles and construction materials – declined 0.5% from November to December but markets expect to see a 0.3% jump in January. Broad retail sales showed 5.0% year on year growth in December and consensus is that sales rose 8.0% in January.
Also on Thursday, Chile's central bank will announce its latest monetary policy decision. Analysts expect officials to leave the bank's 5.0% nominal overnight rate on hold.
On Friday, Brazil and Peru will release monthly proxy gross domestic product data. Markets expect Brazil's data to show an uptick to 0.70% monthly growth in January from 0.26% in December. Peru's year on year growth likely accelerated to 6.3% from 4.3%.
Also on Friday, Argentina – the first nation ever censured by the International Monetary Fund for providing inaccurate inflation and growth information – will report inflation and growth information.
Middle East and Africa
Mauritius's central bank will announce its interest rates decision on Monday. After three rounds of voting, the bank's monetary policy committee (MPC) left rates unchanged at 4.9% at its November meeting.
Kenya's central bank will follow with a rates announcement on Tuesday. Inflation quickened more than expected in February, raising expectations that the bank will keep its benchmark rate on hold at 9.5%.
Also on Tuesday, the South African Reserve Bank will release fourth quarter current account figures. Market consensus is that the country's current account deficit narrowed from a record $202.5-billion in the third quarter of 2012 to $200-billion in the fourth. Measured differently, the current account deficit likely shrank to 6.3% of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter from 6.4% in the third.
On Wednesday, Ghana will release February's CPI figures and Statistics South Africa will release January's retail trade figures. Markets expect the year on year pace of sales growth to have quickened to 3.2% in January from 2.3% in December.
On Thursday, Namibia will release February's CPI figures and Stats SA will report January's wholesale trade, mining, manufacturing and motor trade numbers. Markets expect manufacturing output to have risen 2.8%, year on year, following December's 2% rise.
Elsewhere on the continent this week, Ghana will release January's gross reserves data and Tanzania will release last month's CPI data.
Matt Quigley writes a weekly economic preview for the Mail & Guardian. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattquigley.