In the euro area, focus this week will be on May confidence surveys, that are expected to worsen slightly and are compatible with relatively weak economic growth in the area over the spring….
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The composite PMI index should stabilise at 46.6, just below the April reading. National business confidence indices are also forecast to worsen slightly (INSEE survey in France, IFO in Germany, and BNB in Belgium). A deterioration should also be indicated by consumer confidence indices in Italy and the euro area.
A limited number of data releases are due this week in the United States. In April, home sales, both new and existing, should confirm the moderate uptrend recorded since the autumn of 2011. Durable goods orders should grow at a very modest pace in April, in the wake of corrections of the civil aircraft component. Consumer confidence in May should stay close to its early May level, at a high for the past five years.
Tuesday 22 May
The preliminary estimate of consumer confidence in the euro area in May could drop to -20.5, therefore confirming the deterioration seen since April, when confidence contracted to -19.9, after three months on the rise. The widespread worsening of labour market conditions, and renewed tensions on the financial markets are weighing on consumer confidence.
Existing home sales should be up in April to 4.58 million ann. Pending home sales increased sharply in March. All residential real estate indicators are on a gradual uptrend from historically very low levels. The trend should continue, at an equally slow pace, throughout the year.
Wednesday 23 May
Italy. Consumer confidence is expected to stabilise in May at 89, an all-time low for the series, already touched in April. Last month the current economic sentiment sub-indices had plummeted, both at the national and personal levels; the correction, of around six points, placed the current conditions index at 96.7, down sharply from recent values, but still above 2008 levels and the lows hit at the beginning of 2004. Even more worrying is the signal sent of by the expectations component, which suffered a record-breaking contraction (-9.7 points), to 76.6, a new historical low. This indication confirms that the deterioration of the labour market, and the weight of restrictive fiscal policies, leave no margin for a recovery in sentiment among households.
New home sales should be broadly flat in April, at 325k from 328k in March. The builder confidence index had dropped unexpectedly in April (followed by a recovery in May), and the same path should be followed by new home sales, which in any case have been on a moderate uptrend since mid-2011.
Thursday 24 May
Germany. Final GDP growth in Q1 2012 should confirm the preliminary estimate, which set growth at 0.5% q/q and 1.2% y/y adjusted by work days. Based on qualitative data provided by the Office of Statistics, positive contributions should have come from the foreign channel and consumption, as opposed to a drop in investments. After the extremely positive Q1 figure, growth in Germany should moderate somewhat over the spring, subsequently reaccelerating in the second half of the year.
France. The INSEE business confidence index is expected to drop marginally in May, to 94, therefore continuing the decline observed since April (when it hit 95), after recovering in the opening months of the year. Persistently low confidence levels are compatible with the indications provided by the future activity and orders components of the April survey, which pointed to further weakness. Therefore, economic activity is expected to remain slow in the months to come.
The euro area composite PMI should stabilise in May at 46.6 (from a final reading of 46.7 in April), after dropping sharply the previous month to levels close to the lows hit last October. The composite index is mostly affected by conditions in the manufacturing sector, where confidence is expected to worsen further, albeit marginally: we forecast a 45.7 reading from 45.9 previously, compatible with a contraction of productive activity in the course of Q2. Confidence in the services sector should stabilise, and the index is expected to come in at 47 from 46.9 the previous month.
Germany. The IFO business confidence index should be down slightly in May, to 109.2 from 109.9 in April, after staying broadly stable for two months. The current situation index could improve to 118.1 (from 117.5), as opposed to a decline of the expectations component to 100.6 from 102.7 last month. Current tensions in the euro area could also impact in the next few quarters German productive activity, hitherto shielded from the area’s widespread weakening. IFO projections are compatible with expectations for a slower pace of growth of the German economy in Q2 than in Q1. Our forecast is for GDP growth of 0.2% in Q2, down from 0.5% in the first three months of the year.
Belgium. In May the BNB confidence index should keep up the downtrend recorded in recent months, closing at -11.5 from a previous -10.7. The manufacturing sector could remain weak, as opposed to a marginal improvements in construction and retail.
Durable goods orders should remain weak in April, growing by 0.2% m/m in overall terms, and by +0.5% m/m net of the transport component. In April, orders in the civil aviation sector are estimated to have dropped again, based on data provided by Boeing: between December and February, strong increase had been recorded in the sector, which should be followed by two or three monthly corrections in a row. Orders of capital goods net of the aviation and defence components should keep up a moderately positive trend, in line with the indications provided by sector surveys. The orders component of the manufacturing ISM has been on the rise since October 2011, although it has failed to match the levels of December 2010-April 2011.
Friday 25 May
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