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The US dollar retreated for a second week in a row, even though QE3 isn’t exactly around the corner. The upcoming week is packed with key US events that lead to the highly anticipated Non-farm Payrolls report on Friday. Was the weakness in jobs last month temporary or not? Also note rate decisions in the euro-zone and Australia. Here is an outlook on the major market-movers ahead.

According to the initial read, the US economy grew at a slow pace of only 2.2% in Q1 2012. Looking at the components of this figure, the rise of 2.9% in consumption makes the outcome a bit better than the headline figure, Also other data was weaker, but still mixed:  US Pending Home Sales leaped by 4.1%  suggesting a real improvement in the housing market, but the US labor market continues to disappoint for the third week with a higher than expected number of unemployment claims. Let’s Start

  1. Canadian GDP: Monday, 12:30.  The  Canadian economy expanded by 0.1% in January following a 0.5% climb in December. The modest rise was in line with analysts predictions. The main rise occurred in the manufacturing, finance and insurance sectors while energy products and housing sector declined. Canadian GDP is expected to gain 0.2% in February.
  2. Australian rate decision: Tuesday, 4:30. The Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate at 4.25%, saying it needs to see inflation remains contained before implementing additional easing in monetary policy. Growth is expected to be somewhat slower than initially predicted in 2012. After inflation significantly eased, the question is not whether a rate cut is coming or not, but its size: 0.25% to 4% or 0.50% to 3.75%.
  3. US ISM Manufacturing PMI: Tuesday, 14:00. Manufacturing activity in the U.S. increased more than anticipated in March, rising to 53.4 from 52.4 in February. 15 out of 18 industries are expecting expansion in the next few months indicating a growth trend in the US economy. A small drop to 53.1 is expected now.
  4. US ADP Non-Farm Employment Change: Wednesday, 12:15.U.S. businesses created 209,000 jobs in March following 200,000 job additions in February, suggesting the job market is continuing to improve. The reading was above the 205,000 expected by analysts. Nevertheless the Fed remains cautious regarding its job market assessment. A drop to 179,000 is anticipated.
  5. NZ employment data: Wednesday, 22:45. New Zealand’s unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly to 6.3% in the final quarter of 2011 amid a sharp increase in part-time employment and a drop in the number of people actively seeking work. New Zealand job market expanded by 0.1% in the fourth quarter, less than the 0.4% growth predicted. However New Zealand’s unemployment rate is the 12th lowest among developed economies.
  6. Euro-Zone rate decision: Thursday, 11:45, with the press conference at 12:30. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi maintained rates at a record low of 1.0% despite a German call to let go of the crisis-fighting monetary policy. Draghi said that major risks still impend on the EU economic outlook and the ECB will need more time to assess the success of its 1 trillion euros funding operations before changing its monetary policy. Interest rate is expected to remain 1.0%.
  7. US Unemployment Claims: Thursday, 12;30. The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits increased more than predicted last week  reaching 388,000 from389,000 in the previous week. Analysts expected a lower figure of 374,000 indicating the labor market has not recovered as anticipated. The unsteady job market shakes consumer confidence which may lead to reduction in consumer spending. A small decline to 384,000 is predicted now.
  8. ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI:  Thursday, 14:00. Service sector activity slowed more-than-anticipated in March reaching 56.0 from 57.3 in February but still showing expansion. Economists expected the index to drop to 56.9.  16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth and improved consumer confidence.
  9. US Non-Farm Employment Change: Friday, 12:30. Non-Farm Payrolls increased less than predicted in March rising 120,000. The main rise occurred in manufacturing,food services and drinking places, and health care. This reading was the lowest since October 2011. A drop to 176,000 is expected this time.
  10. US Unemployment Rate: Friday, 12:30.  US job market weakened in March due to lower hiring of 120,000 however unemployment rate declined to 8.2%. This is the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009. But the rate declined mainly because fewer people searched for jobs. Without a higher participation rate, the economy will likely remain stuck. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that the growth trend in the labor market will not continue unless consumer spending increases. Unemployment rate is expected to remain 8.2%.

*All times are GMT.

That’s it for the major events this week. Stay tuned for coverage on specific currencies

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