The Brexit drama reached new highs, and US data triggered quite a bit of action. The focus is now on the all-important Fed decision, but the calendar is quite busy with other events as well. Here the highlights for the next week.
- UK jobs report Tuesday, 9:30. The UK continues enjoying a low unemployment rate, and wages are rising as well. Back in December, the Average Earnings Index rose by 3.4% YoY, an encouraging sign. Salaries will likely be the focus this time as well. The jobless rate stood at 4%. The Claimant Count Change, most recently from January, showed a worrying rise of 14.2K. The fresh figures for February will reveal if the situation continued worsening, but it may be brushed off by upbeat wage data.
- US housing data: Tuesday, 12:30. We are now back to the regular schedule of these releases, after disruptions due to the shutdown. The figures for January showed a small rise in building permits to 1.35 million annualized. Housing starts surprised to the upside as well, with 1.23 million annualized, after suffering a significant drop beforehand. All in all, the housing sector seems to have stabilized.
- UK inflation: Wednesday, 9:30. The headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) continued moderating in January, decelerating to an annual pace of 1.8%, very close to the Bank of England’s 2% target. Falling energy prices are behind most of the move. Core CPI stood at 1.9%, and the Retail Price Index (RPI) rose at 2.5%. We will now receive the figures for February.
- Fed decision: Wednesday, decision and dot-plot at 18:00, press conference at 18:30. The Federal Reserve made a significant dovish shift in January, pledging patience on raising interest rates and also opening the door to an early end of the balance sheet reduction program. The Fed is expected to leave rates unchanged now and continue pledging patience. However, we do not know if they are still considering a hike later this year. The most recent projections, known as the dot-plot, are from December 2018. Back then, they downgraded the forecast to only two increases in 2019 from three beforehand. Will they now lower it to just one hike? Or signal no hikes at all? Any change will be crucial for the dollar. Also, details about how the Fed intends to end the balance sheet reduction program will be watched. The sooner it ends, the worse for the greenback. place, but stressed the global slowdown. It will be interesting to hear his comments about economic developments.
- New Zealand GDP: Wednesday, 21:45. The New Zealand economy grew by only 0.3% in Q3 2018 after faster growth beforehand. Q2 stood out with 1% q/q. The data for Q4 2018 is not expected to be very promising, as other countries have printed slow growth figures.
- Australian jobs report: Thursday, 00:30. Australia enjoyed upbeat labor market reports of late. The increase of 39.1K positions in January came on top of robust growth beforehand. The unemployment rate remained at a low level of 5%.
- Swiss rate decision: Thursday, 8:30. The Swiss National Bank convenes for a rate decision only once per quarter and has maintained the negative interest rate of 0.75% since it removed the peg under EUR/CHF in January 2015. The SNB pledged to intervene in FX markets if necessary but did not need to do it of late. Governor Thomas Jordan and his colleagues are not projected to make any policy changes at this point.
- UK rate decision: Thursday, 12:00. The Bank of England is waiting for clarity on Brexit like everybody else. The economy is doing well and Governor Mark Carney expressed his desire to raise rates to curb credit and limit inflation. However, the extreme level of uncertainty around Brexit means that policy is paralyzed. A hard Brexit may inflict severe economic damage.
- Canadian inflation and retail sales: Friday, 12:30. It has been a while since Canada released both figures together. CPI, which is targeted by the Bank of Canada, rose by 0.1% in January amid falling oil prices. However, Core CPI rose by 0.3% and other core measures such as the Common CPI (1.9%), the Median CPI (1.8%), and the Median CPI (1.9%) are all close to 2%. Retail sales disappointed in December with a drop of 0.1% and core CPI looked even worse with a fall of 0.5%.
- US existing home sales: Friday, 14:00. While some housing measures have shown signs of a rebound, sales of existing, second-hand homes, remained depressed at 4.94 million annualized.
*All times are GMT
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