Due out in the Euro area are the March economic surveys: the indicators (IFO, INSEE, BNB, EU Commission) should show confidence stabilising at historically high levels. . ..…
The data in the United States should not alter the economic picture. February durable goods orders should be up, confirming the positive trend in the manufacturing sector. Sales of new and existing homes in February should remain in the range seen in the last six months. Consumer confidence should rise in March. The third revision to 4Q10 GDP should be slightly positive.
Monday 21 March
– Existing home sales are expected to fall to 5.0M units ann. in February, from 5.36M before, after three months of gains. The recent pending home sales figures recorded two consecutive falls and signal a likely correction in actual existing home sales. The sector shows no signs of starting an uptrend, and the recent hike in mortgage rates (reflected in a contraction in new loan demand) lends weight to expectations of ongoing weakness in the residential real estate sector.
Wednesday 23 March
– The index of consumer confidence compiled by the EU Commission might remain steady at -10 in March, slightly above the long-term mean calculated since 1985 (-12). The improvement in sentiment seen in Greece, Spain and Portugal in January and February might not continue; and in any case the gap between the centre and the periphery should remain very wide.
However, confidence in the core countries and notably Germany is still set fair (according to the GfK survey, in March sentiment improved further to its highest level since October 2007).
– The Bank of Belgium confidence index might be little changed in March at 5.5 vs. 5.8 in february. The index, seen as a predictor of the industrial cycle in Germany (the main outlet market for Belgian manufacturers), is not far off all-time highs in the over 30 years of the series.
– New home sales are expected to rise to 295k in February, from 284k in January. The homebuilders survey signalled a modest rise in the current and future sales indices. Sales should nonetheless remain in the 280-325k range seen in the last seven months.
Thursday 24 March
– France. Manufacturing business confidence might be unchanged at 106 in March. The sub-index of new orders, still very negative at -17, might improve. The view of production plans is expected to improve slightly, but should still fall short of the January level. Price expectations might rise further to their highest level since April 2008. In general, the index lies close to the pre-crisis highs and the latest industrial production data (up +1.1% mom in January) appear
to signal that the cycle in industry is robust.
– Italy. Consumer confidence might be little changed in March, at 106.2 from 106.4 in February. The index would still be below the average recorded since 1982 (112.5). Concerns over unemployment, which fell sharply last month, might start building again; confidence might also be dented by the rise in inflation expectations.
– The PMI composite index for the Euro area might ease to 57.9 in March from 58.2 before (its highest since June 2006). This would mark the first (slight) fall in the last five months. The dip in sentiment should be due to a somewhat less bullish view both in manufacturing (estimated at 58.6 from 59, its highest in almost 11 years) and in services (56.6 from 56.8). The composite index would thus remain extremely expansionary, actually pointing to a marked
acceleration in GDP (in the area 1% qoq).
– Durable goods orders are expected to be up 1% mom, after +3.2% mom in January. Orders ex transportation should bounce by +2.6% mom after falling by -3% mom in January.
Transportation made a positive contribution in past months and should hold back the overall dynamic in February. The weak January figures ex transportation might have been affected by the weather: the indications from the ISM (orders at January 2004 highs) imply a positive and robust trend in orders.
Friday 25 March
– In February, the M3 growth rate might accelerate to 1.8% yoy after unexpectedly slowing to 1.5% yoy in January. The three-month moving average would remain steady at 1.7% yoy.
Loans to the private sector might accelerate further to 2.6 from 2.4% yoy: the uptrend in household loans should firm (3.1% yoy in January), while business loans should retain a year-on-year growth rate only slightly above zero (0.4% yoy in January).
– Germany. The IFO index should be steady at 111.2 in March, sticking at highs in the 20 years of the series. Expectations might slip by few tenths to 107.6 from 107.9, while the view of the present situation should remain steady at 114.7, just a few tenths below the all-time recorded in December 2006. The level of the IFO index would be consistent with a year-on-year acceleration of 5% in German GDP.
– The final estimate of 4Q10 GDP should involve a modest upward revision to +2.9% qoq ann., from the previous estimate of 2.8% qoq ann., in the wake of more robust inventories and investments in structures.
– Household confidence as measured by the Univ. of Michigan in March (final) should rise above the advance estimate, climbing to 71 from 68.1, thus making up only some of the ground lost between February and early March (from 77.5 in February to 68.1 mid-March). Of great importance are inflation expectations which in mid-March jumped to 3.2% from 2.9% in January and February on a five year time horizon and to 4.6% from 3.4% in the previous two months on a one-year horizon. The trend in the oil price remains upward and will keep pressure on expectations until it factors in the moderate downturn in the oil price seen in the last few days.
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