US jobs and Chinese inflation data, eurozone and UK activity updates, and a busy calendar of meetings for central bankers will create a hectic week of indicators for investors to judge the pace of global recovery.
Friday’s US non-farm payrolls is the traditional monthly data highlight and February’s report will be eagerly awaited by the growth bulls for further signs of good news.
“Beyond the excitement of the Super Tuesday Republican primaries, all eyes Stateside will be trailed on Friday’s jobs report,” said Victoria Cadman of Investec.
“ Recent US data have reinforced the view that the recovery is gaining momentum,” said James Knightley of ING. “This week’s key labour data should add to this positive view with payrolls expected to post another 200k-plus rise given declining jobless claims and rising demand for workers reported in business surveys.”
The consensus forecast is for an addition of about 215,000 jobs for February after the previous month’s gain of 243,000.
RBC Capital Markets analysts cautioned: “Following two straight months of robust gains, the February outcome will look a bit more modest by comparison. We built in some modest pullback in construction jobs following two straight strong advances on the heels of warmer than normal weather.”
Madhur Jha of HSBC also reined in expectations of a bumper figure by noting: “We expect February non-farm payrolls to rise by 185,000. We look for the unemployment rate to hold steady at 8.3 per cent but this is a major source of uncertainty.”
Friday will also bring significant news of Chinese consumer price inflation in a week when political developments will also be to the fore with the opening of the National People’s Congress.
The inflation rise in January to 4.5 per cent is widely expected to ease in February to about 3.4 per cent, giving more leeway for Beijing to implement soon another cut in the reserve requirement ratio.
The CPI figures will set the stage for China’s regular monthly data dump, which will include industrial production figures.
“We believe the data pack, taken together, will probably serve to dismiss investors’ fears both of a significant growth slowdown and a revival in CPI inflation in China,” said Denise Yam of Morgan Stanley.
A more sobering economic picture is likely to be painted by eurozone data, namely Monday’s purchasing managers’ index figures and Tuesday’s second estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the services PMI is out on Monday, while Friday’s industrial production data will give further clues to the extent of the British economic rebound.
“The UK manufacturing sector looks set to expand in the first quarter of 2012 after contracting sharply in the fourth quarter of 2011, but it is far from performing as well as it had done in 2010 and the start of 2011,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.
On the policy front, Chris Williamson of Markit said: “Meetings of the European Central Bank and Bank of England are not expected to bring about any change in monetary policy, although many analysts continue to hold out hope for a 25 basis point cut in the ECB’s policy rate to help boost economic growth in the face of austerity.”
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