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The US dollar wobbled lower through the week, looking for a direction. The upcoming week starts a new month, and the calendar is very busy: rate decisions in the UK, Australia and Europe are seen alongside first tier US figures which build up towards the all important  Non-Farm Payrolls. Is the US recovery still with us? Here is an outlook on the main market-movers.

Last week Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made a speech about the Labor market, stating that job growth is positive however it remains “out of sync” with the relatively slow expansion in the US economy, calling this dichotomy a ‘puzzle.’. Bernanke suggested that the massive layoffs during the recession were too severe therefore the impressive job creation in the post recession labor market is a mere compensation. Bernanke anticipates job growth to moderate in the coming months, not certain whether the job market recovery will be sustained. Let’s see what this week has in store for us.  Let’s start

  1. US ISM Manufacturing PMI: Monday, 14:00. US manufacturing activity slowed in February to 52.4 in from54.1 in January despite analysts’ predictions of a 0.5 points rise. Nevertheless this is a positive reading indicating expansion. The growth trend is expected to continue in the next months as well with a 53.3 reading.
  2. Australian rate decision: Tuesday, 4:30. The Reserve Bank of  Australia  (RBA) maintained its benchmark rates at 4.25% amid slower growth in Europe and China with a weaker Australian labor market. No change is forecasted.
  3. US FOMC Meeting Minutes: Tuesday 18:00. The Federal Reserve maintained its monetary policy in March in light of an improvement in the labor market and a growth trend in the US economy relinquishing the idea of additional QE. The Fed also continued its Maturity Extension Program to lower long-term interest rates.
  4. Euro-Zone rate decision: Wednesday, 11:45. The European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi maintained its benchmark rate at 1.0% claiming the euro-zone economic recovery will be gradual. The ECB expects growth to be between -0.5% to 0.3% in 2012. The same rate is expected to be maintained.
  5. US ADP Non-Farm Employment Change: Wednesday, 12:15. The US economy private sector gained 216,000 jobs in February after a moderate decline in the previous month indicating a positive trend in the U.S. labor market. This reading was higher than the 204,000 predicted and the 173,000 reading in January. A gain of 209,000 is anticipated this time.
  6. US ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI: Wednesday, 14:00. Service sector activity expanded unexpectedly in February reaching 57.3 from 56.8 in January suggesting a firm recovery in the US economy. Analysts anticipated a small decline of 0.7 point to 56.1 in February.  Another decline to 56.8 is expected now.
  7. UK rate decision: Thursday, 11:00. The  Bank of England  maintained its benchmark rate at 0.50% for the third year and continued its £325 billion of  quantitative easing program in light of the slowdown in the UK economy. Nevertheless the labor market seems to be improving with a drop to 7.4% in unemployment rate and a growth in the number of full-time positions vs. part time jobs. The same rate is expected this time.
  8. Canadian employment data: Thursday, 12:30. Canadian employment market contracted 2,800 jobs in February despite predictions for a 15,000 addition. This reading followed a 2,300 increase in January. Nevertheless there is an improvement in the number of full-time positions. Meanwhile Unemployment rate decreased to 7.4% from 7.6% beating predictions for 7.6%. These readings suggest the Canadian economy is struggling to achieve growth. The job market is expected to gain 12,600 jobs while unemployment rate is predicted to reach 7.5%.
  9. US Unemployment Claims: Thursday, 12:30. The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits continued to improve dropping to 359,000 last week after a reading of364,000 in the prior week. The number of claims stayed below the 400,000 mark since October 2011 projecting a steady process of recovery in the labor market.   A small drop to 355,000 is expected now.
  10. US Non-Farm Employment Change: Friday, 12:30.  Non farm  payrolls continues to surprise gaining 227,000 jobs in February, marking the third month of strong climbs. January’s reading was revised up from 243,000 to 284,000, the largest total gain since May 2010. Unemployment rate maintained its recent drop to 8.3%. A job increase of 211,000 is expected this time.
  11. US Unemployment Rate: Friday, 12:30. Unemployment rate remained steady at 8.3% in February, the lowest rate in three years, following five consecutive drops. The impressive job creation in the last three months streamed more people in to the work force reversing the trend of massive layoffs and high unemployment rate. Unemployment rate is expected to remain 8.3%.

*All times are GMT.

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

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