Economic releases, ECB to set the tone for 2014

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A rush of key economic releases this week and the European Central Bank’s (ECB’s) last meeting of the year may help set the tone for investors and traders looking ahead to next year.

Like the two years preceding it, 2013 has been a damp squib for the global economy, beset by political wrangling in the US, recession in Europe and disappointing growth in China.

Economists are optimistic that next year augurs better – even if only slightly – and data this week should point the way towards this gradual improvement. Surveys from the US are expected to show steady growth in American businesses going into next year, even if few expect much of an improvement.

And official data are expected to confirm the US economy grew at the fastest pace in a year from July to September, although the pace of hiring probably sagged last month.

“The US is looking in the strongest position,” said Andrew Kenningham, a senior global economist at Capital Economics, on the prospects for next year.

Data last week showed that the British economy grew at its fastest pace in three years in the third quarter.

“So you’ve got the Anglo-Saxon world doing pretty well, the euro zone doing poorly – despite Germany – and Japan still doing poorly.”

With emerging markets avoiding major crises, he said that pointed to global growth rising incrementally over the next two years, from about 3 percent this year to 3.5 percent in 2015.

Analysts forecast US economic growth for the third quarter will be revised up to 3 percent. The ISM business surveys and Friday’s US employment data are the biggest market-moving indicators this week. Economists expect the US economy added 185 000 more non-farm jobs in November, less than the 204 000 created the previous month.

Kenningham said the outlook should improve for the US next year, assuming Washington’s political impasses did not result in more sudden fiscal retrenchment. Few expect the ECB’s December policy decision to result in another shock for the markets after it cut interest rates last month.

But the tone of ECB president Mario Draghi’s comments in Thursday’s press conference may provide hints on how he intends to conduct monetary policy next year – especially as he will be armed with new forecasts from the bank’s staff.

Most economists polled by Reuters believe the ECB will offer banks more access to cheap cash over a long term.

“We expect the euro zone economy will grow, but very minimally, next year. It’s stabilised, but it’s not anywhere near being in a position to post a long period of rapid growth,” Kenningham said. – Reuters


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