FOMC meeting is front and center this week

11 December, 2017

The FOMC meeting is front and center this week following the solid November jobs report on Friday, which provided the final bit of cover for the Fed to push ahead with a quarter point December rate hike as well telegraphed. It will be the last meeting conducted by Chair Yellen, who can now tie a bow on her 3+ year tenure and hand the policy wand over to Jay Powell. Attention will remain on Europe too with a number of key events late in the week, including ECB and SNB policy meetings Thursday, and EU Leaders Summit and Brexit discussions, as well as German coalition building.

United States: The U.S. calendar will be crowded by supply and the FOMC policy decision, but the economic reports could pack some punches of their own thanks to key releases on inflation and retail sales, among others. November headline PPI (Tuesday) is forecast to rise 0.4% vs 0.4%; core PPI is set to increase just 0.2% vs 0.4%. The Treasury budget gap is also out (Tuesday) and is expected to narrow slightly to -$132 bln in November from -$137 bln a year ago. Headline CPI (Wednesday) is on tap to rise 0.4% in November  from 0.1%; with a 0.2% core rise forecast. MBA mortgage applications and EIA energy inventories are also due (Wednesday). Headline retail sales (Thursday) are projected to increase 0.6%  for November from 0.2%, while ex-auto sales may outperform at 1.0% vs 0.1%, given weaker auto sales of late. Import prices (Thursday) may rise 0.7% in November, while export prices are seen up 0.2%. Initial jobless claims are seen steady at 236k for the December 9 week. Business inventories may sink 0.1% for October (Thursday). All out on Friday, the Empire State index may rise to 20.0 in December from 19.4, industrial production is set to rise 0.2% in November and capacity use to 77.1%, while TIC flow data is due.

Canada: Governor Poloz’s speech (Thursday) to the Canadian Club Toronto is the highlight of a fairly lean calendar this week. The speech will be published at 12:25 ET, with a press conference to follow at 13:45 ET. In last week’s announcement, the BoC maintained a cautious approach to further rate hikes amid “considerable uncertainty” on the global outlook. The press conference should make for interesting listenin,  as Poloz and Wilkins expected to receive end of several pointed questions about wages, trade, GDP and what it will take to prompt another rate increase. Meanwhile, the economic reports due out this week have limited scope to alter the outlook for BoC policy. October manufacturing is expected to bounce 1.5% after the 0.5% gain in September. Existing home sales for November (Friday), the October new home price index (Thursday) and the Teranet/National HPI (Wednesday) will complete the housing data docket for October/November.

Europe: With the holiday period approaching fast, the week is a bumper one for data, as well as key political events, and key central bank meetings. After May and Juncker reached a breakthrough agreement on key Brexit issues, EU heads of states are expected to officially declare that sufficient progress on divorce terms has been made to move to phase 2. In Germany, there is fresh hope that new elections can be avoided after the SPD reversed its decision not to enter coalition talks. The first official meeting is scheduled for this week. These events may overshadow Thursday’s ECB meeting to a certain extent, especially after Draghi effectively mapped out the policy path until the end of September 2018 by delivering a 9 month QE extension in October. Data releases ahead of the ECB meeting will be overshadowed by the full event calendar and focus on final inflation data for November, as well as the first round of December confidence data with preliminary PMI and German ZEW readings. Expectations are for the confidence numbers to fall back slightly, but remain at very high levels, consistent with strong growth and job creation. The headline HICP rates expected to confirm preliminary numbers of 1.8% for Germany (Wednesday), 1.3% for France (Thursday) and 1.1% for Italy (Thursday), which should leave overall Eurozone HICP (due Dec 18) at 1.5%, below the 2% upper limit for price stability, but with signs that underlying inflation pressures and wages are starting to pick up.

UK: The pound opens the new week on a fragile footing after coming under pressure on Friday. That drop was partly due to sell-on-the-fact moves following the agreement between the EU and U.K. on divorcing terms, partly on rising concerns as the details of the deal are digested, and also in part on the sharpening of focus on the realities of the next phase of negotiations, which will involve agreeing on new trading terms with 27 countries in the relatively short time period until Brexit-Day in March 2019. The EU has already warned the U.K. that trade talks can’t happen until March next year. The main concern about the divorce agreement is “regulatory alignment” accord that was needed to maintain the Irish border as a soft border, a circumstance, as U.S. trade representatives have warned before, that could hinder or stop the U.K. from signing free trade deals with other countries. This seems to suggest that the government has, essentially, positioned the U.K. for a “soft” Brexit, and we have to now see how this unfolds politically.The data calendar is highlighted by November inflation numbers (Tuesday), the monthly labour market report covering October and November (Wednesday), and the November retail sales report (Thursday).

Japan: In Japan, November PPI (Tuesday) is expected unchanged after firming to 3.4% y/y in October versus September’s 3.1%. However, the slightly stronger yen may have limited PPI gains. Any sign of rising inflation will be good news for the BoJ. The October tertiary index (Tuesday) should rebound 0.3% versus the previous -0.2% outcome based on gains in recent real sector data. October machine orders (Wednesday) are penciled in with a 3.0% m/m gain from the 8.1% drop in September. Revised October industrial production is due Thursday. It posted a 0.5% gain in the preliminary report versus September’s -1.0%. It’s been on a choppy, saw-toothed monthly path through the year. Friday brings the December Tankan index, seen improving to 25 from 22 for large manufacturers, and to 26 from 23 for large non-manufacturers.

China: November industrial production (Thursday) is forecast at little changed at 6.1% y/y from 6.2% previously. It’s held a 6-handle most of the year, with a couple of readings in the 7s. November fixed investment (Thursday) is expected to slow to a 7.1% y/y pace from 7.3%. November retail sales (Thursday), meanwhile, should rise to a 10.3% y/y rate from 10.0% previously.

AustraliaReserve Bank of Australia Governor Lowe speaks at the Australian Payment Summit 2017 (Wednesday) on “An eAud?” Head of Payments Policy Richards participates in a discussion panel (Wednesday) at the Australian Payment Summit 2017. Assistant Governor (Financial Markets) Kent speaks (Wednesday) on “The Availability of Business Finance.” The employment report (Thursday) is expected to reveal a 10.0k gain in total jobs during November following the 3.7k rise in October. The unemployment rate is projected to hold at 5.4% in November.

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