Economic Calendar – Top 5 Things to Watch This Week

Investing.com – Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is due to testify to Congress amid concerns over a possible resurgence of Covid-19. U.S. retail sales data will be watched for indications on the strength of the reopening rebound, with investors waiting to see if the recent bounce in value stocks can be sustained. Across the pond, the Bank of England is expected to further expand its stimulus program after a report showing that the economy contracted by more than 20% in April. And its set to be a busy week in the European Union with a fresh round of Brexit talks and a summit to discuss its pandemic recovery fund proposal. Here’s what you need to know to start your week.

  1. Powell testimony

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is to testify on the central bank’s semiannual monetary policy report before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. Investors will be on the lookout for any further indication of the Fed’s view on the economy and more clarity on its bond buying and lending programs.

Last week the Fed indicated that it plans years of extraordinary support for an economy facing a long hard recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with policymakers projecting the economy to shrink 6.5% in 2020 and the unemployment rate to be 9.3% at year’s end.

  1. U.S. retail sales, jobless claims data

U.S. retail sales data for May is due out on Tuesday with investors on the watch for signs of an economy on the mend. April retail sales plunged a record 16.4% but hopefully that was the nadir and economists are forecasting an 8% rebound amid the ending of lockdowns across many states.

The latest initial jobless claims report will be released on Thursday. Jobless claims totaled 1.5m last week, marking the 10th consecutive weekly decline as hiring slowly returns. While claims have slowed, the unemployment rate, currently at 13.3% remains at historic levels.

The calendar also features updates on industrial production and housing starts.

  1. Can the bounce in value stocks stick?

As the U.S. economy begins to recover from the steep coronavirus slowdown, some fund managers have been drawn to value stocks, a sector that underperformed during the recent rally.

Value stocks tended to underperform growth stocks during the bull market that ran for more than a decade and ended this year.

That pattern has recently reasserted itself: The S&P 500 Value index was up just 4.5% over the last month compared to a 5% gain in the S&P 500 Growth index.

But increased uncertainty over the economic outlook or the course of the pandemic could push investors back into the growth companies that have delivered performance in recent months, so investors will be keeping a close eye on this week’s economic data.

  1. BoE to expand stimulus measures

All central banks are fighting the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but the Bank of England also has Brexit to contend with. April’s 20% GDP slump leaves Britain’s economy the same size as in 2002; this year could bring the biggest contraction in 300 years.

The BOE is expected to give itself another 150 billion pounds in firepower at its Thursday meeting, adding to the expansion announced in March and some analysts reckon it could even stretch to 200 billion pounds.

The current rate of buying looks set to hit the limit over the next couple of months and an increase would help avoid premature discussion about ending the policy or of tapering.

The U.K. is also to release data on unemploymentinflationretail sales and house price inflation during the week.

  1. Busy week in the EU

EU Commission President Von der Leyen is set to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday in a bid to revive stalled talks on post-Brexit ties. So far there hasn’t been much progress on a free-trade agreement and there’s not much time left to extend the end-2020 deadline for a deal.

Then on Thursday and Friday EU leaders will meet to discuss the proposed recovery fund to repair economic damage from the pandemic. Most members support the recovery fund but a quartet dubbed the “Frugal Four” – Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden — remain skeptical. For the proposal to succeed, it must be agreed on by everyone and any delay will be a major setback for the euro.

–Reuters contributed to this report



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