In the Euro area, the EU Commission and Italian business confidence surveys are expected to be down slightly in March, whilst remaining expansionary. The month-on-month trend in consumer prices should accelerate sharply in March ..…
given the spike in fuel prices. However, thanks to a favourable base effect, inflation is expected to rise by just one-tenth to 2.4% yoy in Germany, to remain steady in Italy at 2.1% yoy, and to fall in the Euro area. The unemployment rate should remain steady at historically high levels in the Euro area (9.9%) and Italy (8.6%), but it should fall to 7.2% in Germany, confirming the gap in labour market performance.
The coming week is packed with important data in the United States. The manufacturing surveys should confirm the signs of expansion. The March employment report should indicate a further acceleration in employment growth and stabilisation of the unemployment rate.
Household confidence might correct in March, while auto sales are expected to remain very strong. Construction spending should be up in February after slipping in January.
Monday 28 March
Personal spending is expected to be up by 0.8% mom in February, and the January data should be revised up in light of the revisions published with the February retail sales numbers. Auto sales expanded sharply in February and prices rose by 0.5% mom in the sector (but by +1% mom for new cars, after two negative figures). Durable goods should be up 0.6-0.7%, while non-durables, driven by petrol prices, should make a substantial contribution to the growth in nominal terms. The service sector dynamic was negative in January and might havebeen affected by the bad weather: a recovery is expected in February. Personal income should slow after expanding by 1% mom in January, due to the reduction in contributions implemented by the budget at year-end 2010. Without this effect, income should be back on an uptrend, growing by 0.4% mom. The core consumption deflator should be up 0.2% mom: healthcare in the CPI recorded a solid gain in February (+0.4% mom), and has a dominant weight within the deflator. The trend deflator should continue its uptrend, climbing to 0.9% yoy.
Tuesday 29 March
Italy. The business confidence index might correct slightly in March, falling to 102.5 from 103.0. A further improvement is possible in demand-side conditions, although they would still be very negative and well below the trend signalled by the data on factory orders in Italy. Price expectations should rise. In general, the indicator should be confirmed at historically high levels (avg. since 1991: 100.8) and the deterioration in sentiment should not be seen as marking a reversal in Italy’s economic recovery.
Germany. Consumer prices should rise by 0.7% mom in March on the steep hike in fuel prices (+7.8% mom). Inflation will rise to 2.4% yoy in March from 2.1% yoy before. Inflation should peak in April and stick around 2.3% until September, barring further energy-derived pressures and assuming no second-round effects.
Consumer confidence as measured by the Conference Board should fall to 65 in March from 70.4 in February. The Univ. of Michigan March preliminary survey recorded a substantial fall, confirmed by the weekly confidence survey. The fall should be more pronounced in expectations than in the view of the present situation.
Wednesday 30 March
The index of economic confidence compiled by the EU Commission is expected to slip to 107.5 in March from 107.8 before (highest since September 2007). Confidence in industry returned to the long-term mean at the start of this year (6 in February) after two years of gains and it might have paused in March. By contrast, the mood in services might improve to 11.5 from 11.1, given the usual lag in the cycle vs. manufacturing. The flash estimate showing a slight deterioration in consumer confidence to -11 from -10 in February should be confirmed. The breakdown by region might show an ongoing divergent trend between core and peripheral countries.
The ADP estimate of new non-farm payrolls in the private sector is put by the Bloomberg consensus at 210k, vs. 217k in February.
Thursday 31 March
Germany. The unemployment rate might fall by a further tenth to 7.2% in March. This would mark a new low since 1991. The jobless total should fall by 24k, after the drastic fall seen the previous month (-52k). Thus, the outstanding performance of the German labour market should continue thanks both to the policy reforms and Germany’s economic recovery.
Consumer prices in the Euro area are expected to be up 1.0% mom in March vs. 0.4% mom before, but inflation is expected to ease to 2.3% yoy on a benign base effect. The rise in inflation is again due to oil and commodity price volatility. The underlying dynamic is under control for now and is expected to slow further in March, easing to 1.0% yoy from 1.1% yoy before, although it should rise again in April. Core inflation is however expected to come in below 2% again in 2012, since the second-round effects are negligible. Nonetheless, signs are emerging that upstream pressures might feed through downstream, generating a more widespread increase in the inflation dynamic and in medium-term expectations
Italy. Consumer prices on the national measure should be up 0.4% mom in March from 0.3% mom before, and inflation should stick at 2.4%. On the harmonised measure prices are expected to be up 1.4% mom and inflation should be steady at 2.1% yoy. The largest monthon- month gain is expected in energy, on the back of the spike in the oil price, while substantial increases are also expected in transportation. Core inflation should stick at 2%. Inflation should gravitate around the current levels in the months ahead.
The Chicago PMI should ease slightly to 70.5 in March from 71.2 in February. The auto sector continues to record growth in sales, production and orders, lending support to activity in the Chicago district. The activity index in February stood at its highest level since year-end 1988 and the breakdown was generally positive.
Friday 1 April
Italy. The unemployment rate will remain steady (8.6%) at its 2004 highs in February. The quarterly data should signal growth in unemployment at year-end 2010 to 8.6% from 8.3% before. In general, the labour market in Italy is struggling to pick up, as signalled last month by the inactivity rate and youth unemployment at seven-year highs. Only in the second half of the year might a gradual improvement in the labour market get under way.
The unemployment rate in the Euro area is expected to be steady at 9.9% in February. The gap between the peripheral and core countries will remain broad, notably with Germany, where the unemployment rate fell again in February to 1991 lows. The economic surveys and notably the PMI job-index signal a reversal in the labour market in the coming months. United States
The March employment report should show private payrolls growth similar to that seen in February, with non-farm private sector jobs up 230k (222k in February), and plus 200k in the non-farm sector as a whole. The unemployment rate should be unchanged at 8.9% as in February. The employment component of the sector surveys would be consistent with even greater jobs growth than expected for March and unemployment benefits are in line with an improving employment dynamic. The public sector should continue to shed jobs due to the fiscal tightening at state and local level. Hourly wages should be up 0.2% mom and the zero movement in February might be revised up. A hike in hours worked is also likely.
The manufacturing ISM in March should stabilise at the record levels (since 1983) seen in February, climbing to 61.5 from 61.4 before. The Empire was mixed, showing a high activity index but a less positive breakdown. By contrast, the Philly Fed hit its highest level since start- 1984. It will be important to see if there are any signs of weakness in orders to assess the negative indications contained in the durable goods orders figures for February. Prices and employment should remain high.
Construction spending is expected to be up +0.5% mom in February, after falling by -0.7% mom in January. New starts fell heavily in February, but homes under construction fell only slightly, signalling a probably limited contraction in residential sector spending. The nonresidential and public components should be up after the January contraction, in light to of the upturn in payrolls in construction in February.
Vehicle sales are expected to rise again, to 13.9M in March from 13.4M in February, their highest since August 2009, following the “cash for clunkers” incentives. Estimates based on data from car dealership are once again buoyant.
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