The European Central Bank and the Bank of England meetings will take the center stage in the week ahead as traders await to find out if these two major central banks will follow the Fed's footsteps by expanding their monetary policy easing efforts.
In preparation for the new trading week, here is the outlook for the Top 10 spotlight economic events that will move the markets around the globe.
1. EUR- Eurozone Retail Sales, an important gauge of consumer spending measuring sales at retail establishments, Tuesday, January 8, 5:00 am, ET.
Consumer spending in the euro-area is forecast to increase by 0.1% m/m in November, compared with the 1.2% m/m drop in October.
2. EUR- Germany Factory Orders, a leading indicator of economic conditions measuring orders placed with manufacturers, Tuesday, January 8, 6:00 am, ET.
The largest economy in the eurozone could see a decline in industrial activity with factory orders expected to drop by 1.4% m/m in November after rising by 3.9% m/m in October.
3. EUR- Euro-zone GDP- Gross Domestic Product, the main measure of economic activity and growth, Wednesday, January 9, 5:00 am, ET.
The final Q3 GDP reading is expected to confirm that the euro-area is in a double dip recession with a second consecutive quarter of contraction by 0.1% q/q in the third quarter, after the economy shrank by 0.2% q/q in the second quarter of 2012. The report could raise the odds of more easing by the European Central Bank, including a potential rate cut, and could keep the euro under pressure.
4. EUR- Germany Industrial Production, the main gauge of industrial activity measuring the output of factories, mines and utilities, Wednesday, January 9, 6:00 am, ET.
After declining by 2.6% m/m in October, the German industrial activity is forecast to pick up the pace with 1.0% m/m increase in November.
5. GBP- Bank of England Interest Rate Announcement, Thursday, January 10, 7:00 am, ET.
The minutes of the Bank of England's last meeting confirmed that policy makers were not in a hurry to do more quantitative easing. This is why the central bank will be likely to keep the size of its Asset Purchase Program unchanged in January, while also maintaining the benchmark interest rate at the record low 0.50%. On the other hand, we should not completely discount the possibility of another 50 billion pounds expansion of the bank's Asset Purchase Program in upcoming months, especially if the economy takes a turn for the worse in Q1 2013. As long as the Bank of England continues to sit on the QE sidelines, the GBP should remain as a viable alternative to other currencies whose central banks go full speed ahead with more easing.
6. EUR- European Central Bank Interest Rate Announcement, Thursday, January 10, 7:45 am, ET.
As the euro-area heads into 2013 with chronic contraction in its manufacturing and services sectors, the question remains just how long can the European Central Bank afford to wait until it resorts to additional monetary policy easing, including another rate cut. With eurozone growth still nowhere to be seen, the central bank could see time running out, especially if the EU debt crisis flares up again. Although January may not be the month when we witness a 25 bps rate cut, ECB policy makers will probably face such decision sometime in the first quarter of 2013. The euro would feel pressure if the market continues to price in more easing by the ECB and if risk aversion and political uncertainty rise ahead of the February election in Italy, while at the same time the U.S. heads for another debt ceiling showdown.
7. USD- U.S. Jobless Claims, an important gauge of labor market conditions measuring first-time claims for unemployment benefits, Thursday, January 10, 8:30 am, ET.
The weekly unemployment claims are forecast to head lower to 361K following a larger than expected increase to 372K in the previous week. With the four-week average still around 360K, there should be further improvement in labor market conditions if jobless claims manage to break below 350K.
8. JPY- Japan Current Account, an important measure of the country's foreign trade, Thursday, January 10, 6:50 pm, ET.
The alarming trend of rising account deficit in Japan is forecast to accelerate with a big jump to -84.1% y/y in November from -29.4% y/y in the previous month. The report could give further impetus to yen selling on expectations that deteriorating economic conditions will force the Japanese government and the Bank of Japan to announce additional measures to weaken the currency and to stimulate the ailing economy.
9. CHF- Swiss CPI- Consumer Price Index, the main measure of inflation preferred by the Swiss National Bank, Friday, January 11, 3:15 am, ET.
Inflationary pressures in Switzerland are forecast to decline by 0.1% m/m in December from the 0.3% m/m drop in the previous month. With the inflation gauge expected to remain in deflation territory at -0.3% y/y in December, the Swiss National Bank should be in no hurry to remove the franc ceiling which was set at 1.20 per euro in September, 2011.
10. GBP- U.K. Industrial Production, the main gauge of industrial activity measuring the output of factories, mines and utilities, Friday, January 11, 4:30 am, ET.
Industrial activity in the U.K. is expected to gain some traction after the 0.8% m/m drop in October with a 0.8% m/m increase in November.