Global economic activity has surprised

16 October, 2017

Global economic activity has surprised to the upside this year, most recently manifest in the upward revisions from the IMF. And while there are a number of potential geopolitical headwinds that could slow, if not derail the momentum, recent economic reports from the U.S. suggest a measurable boost from Keynesian style pump-priming as the South and California recover from the hurricanes and fires that devastated the major regions. Meanwhile, the lack of inflationary pressures continues to baffle central bankers, keeping them on patient footing with respect to removing accommodation. Brexit is a major issue for the UK, while Europe is wrestling with the Spain-Catalonia constitutional crisis. The weekend’s Austrian elections may have some ripple effects and give populists and anti-EU forces fresh impetus. On Wednesday, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party convenes. President Xi is widely expected to be re-elected and is expected to lay out another broad plan for growth. President Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal will add to global concerns, along with the ongoing threats from North Korea.

United States: The Empire State index for October leads off (Monday), expected to decline to 21.0 after the 0.8 point slide to 24.4 in September. September industrial production (Tuesday) is forecast bouncing 0.4% after dropping 0.9% previously. Trade prices for September (Tuesday) should show a 0.8% climb in import prices, helped by energy, and a 0.5% gain in export prices. Housing starts for September (Wednesday) are expected to rise to a 1.200 mln pace following the 0.8% decline to 1.180 mln in August and the 2.2% drop in July to 1.190 mln. The October Philly Fed index (Thursday) is also expected to decline and September existing home sales (Friday) should inch up.

Canada: In Canada, the Business Outlook Survey (Monday) headlines the data docket, with a solidly expansionary outlook, further unwinding of spare capacity and still well contained inflation expectations expected. August manufacturing (Wednesday) is expected to improve 0.5% after the 2.6% tumble in July. August retail sales (Friday) are seen rising 0.5% after the 0.4% improvement in July. CPI (Friday) is expected to rise 0.2% m/m in September after the 0.1% gain in August. All of the reports this week have the potential to alter the policy outlook, but at this point we view the outcome for October’s announcement as fairly well settled. BoC’s Wilkins appears in a panel discussion (Tuesday), with the appearance having minimal risk of containing anything policy relevant.

Europe: Politics will continue to top the agenda. EU leaders will meet Thursday/Friday to talk Brexit. Meanwhile Spain’s constitutional crisis is not over yet. Puigdemont seemed to back down last week, but Rajoy’s ultimatum for a clarification on whether the Catalan leader actually unilaterally declared independence or not at his address to regional lawmakers runs out on October 16 and Madrid also demanded that Catalonia’s leader should respect Spain’s constitution and effectively end the move for independence by October 19.With that in mind the outcome of Austria’s election on October 15 could also have ripple effects and give populists and anti-EU forces fresh impetus. Latest opinion polls suggest that the conservative OeVP will be the strongest party, but the right wing FPOe is a close second.  Clearly a good result for the FPOe would be cheered by the Front National in France and the AfP in Germany. In Germany itself the regional elections in Lower Saxony over the weekend will also be watched closely and the result of Merkel’s CDU could well impact support for the Chancellor within her own party as crucial coalition talks are about to start in earnest.

Against that background the data calendar looks pretty tame and is unlikely to decisively impact the discussion on policy recalibration that is taking place at the ECB ahead of the next meeting at the end of the month. The final reading of Eurozone September HICP is unlikely to bring a major surprise and is expected to confirm the preliminary number of 1.5% y/y. Still too low for the central bank, especially as Draghi is not happy yet with underlying inflation and especially wage growth.

UK:The pound, after posting its biggest weekly loss since August 2016 in the week prior, last week managed to rebound by over 1.5% versus the dollar and by about 1% versus both the euro and yen. The calendar this week is highlighted by inflation data for September (Tuesday) which expected at new cycle high of 3.0% y/y in headline CPI, and a core CPI reading of 2.8% y/y, after 2.7% in the month previous. Such outcomes would be comfortably in the range of BoE projections, and leave the central bank on course of what is now a widely expected 25 bp rate hike at the November policy meeting. Assuming sterling continues to hold up reasonably well, y/y CPI readings should come off the boil in upcoming months as the impact of the currency’s sharp decline following the Brexit vote in July 2019 falls out of the equation. Monthly labor data (Wednesday) should see the unemployment rate remain unchanged at 4.3%, and show average household earnings continue to lag inflation, with incomes expected to rise by 2.1% y/y in the three months to August. September retail sales (Thursday) is expected to show a 0.1% m/m contraction.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s calendar has Q3 CPI, expected to expand 0.4% (q/q, sa) after the flat reading in Q2. CPI is expected to accelerate to a 1.8% y/y pace from the 1.7% growth rate in Q2. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand next meets on November 9. They held rates steady at 1.75% in September, matching expectations. The statement by Acting Governor Spencer was consistent with no change in rates for an extended period.

Japan: Monday brings revised August industrial production, which is expected to remain unchanged at 2.1% y/y. Skipping to Thursday, the September trade report should reveal a surplus of JPY 400.0 bln, versus the 112.6 bln deficit in August. The September all-industry index (Thursday) is expected to rise 0.1% versus the 0.1% decline previously.

China:  September industrial production(Thursday) is estimated at 6.3% y/y from 6.0%, while September retail sales are penciled in at an unchanged 10.1% y/y. Q3 GDP (Friday) is expected at 6.9% y/y, unchanged from Q2.

Australia: The minutes to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s October meeting are due Tuesday. RBA Assistant Governor (Economic) Ellis participates in a panel discussion (Tuesday). RBA Assistant Governor (Financial System) Bullock speaks to the Australian Shareholders Association (Thursday). Employment (Thursday) is seen rising 20.0k in September after the 54.2k gain in August. The unemployment rate is seen at 5.6%, matching the rate in August.

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