Week Ahead – FOMC and RBA minutes in focus; UK GDP, PMI data due

Selena Nicholas, XM Investment Research Desk
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The economic calendar for the upcoming week is relatively quieter following a busy flow of data releases this week. The FOMC minutes and Fed speakers will attract the market’s attention, while PMI data and the second estimate of fourth quarter GDP for the UK will most probably be noteworthy economic reports to look at.

UK GDP in focus
First up next week will be the UK’s Rightmove House Price index due on Monday. It will be a good indication on housing inflation. This data comes after this week’s publication of the UK’s headline inflation number for January, which rose less than expected and hurt the pound. Other UK data due next week include CBI Industrial Order Expectations and Public Sector Net Borrowing. But of course, the GDP reading on Wednesday will be more important to watch. It will be the second estimate for the fourth quarter in 2016 and is not expected to change from the preliminary reading of 0.6 percent quarter-on-quarter.

FOMC minutes
The minutes of the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting will be released next Wednesday. This publication usually attracts some attention although this particular set of minutes may not provide anything new beyond what was already heard from Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before Congress earlier this week. Speeches by FOMC members Neel Kashkari and Patrick Harker will be eyed as well.

Meanwhile, it is important to note that it will be a short trading week for the US due to the public holiday on Monday for President’s Day.

PMI data
Markit PMI data are on tap for next week for several big economies such as the Eurozone, the US and Japan. They are all flash readings for the month of February and all surveys are due on Tuesday, with Japan releasing manufacturing PMI first. Then both manufacturing and services PMI data are due out of the Eurozone, followed by the US.

The Eurozone’s February PMI report will be closely watched. The January composite PMI was unchanged from December’s 54.4, its highest reading in almost 5 1/2 years. Other data out of the Eurozone next week include final CPI and consumer confidence.

RBA policy meeting minutes
On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia will publish the monetary policy meeting minutes from the February meeting, when the cash rate was held at 1.50%. The RBA statement that followed the policy announcement signaled that the monetary policy committee would be happy to keep rates unchanged in the near term. Investors will look to see if the minutes will hint at any intentions for further rate cuts  in the future. The wage price index is due on Wednesday and this data will likely be closely watched since the RBA monitors any inflation related data.