Jan. 21, 2013 (Allthingsforex.com) - The Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting and the U.K. Q4 2012 GDP estimate will place the yen and the pound in the center stage in the week ahead as traders expect an announcement of additional easing measures by the Japanese central bank and cautiously watch the U.K. data for signs of a triple-dip recession.
In preparation for the new trading week, here is a list of the Top 10 spotlight economic events that will move the markets around the globe.
1. JPY- Bank of Japan Interest Rate Announcement, Tues., Jan. 22, around 12:00 am, ET.
The new Japanese government is very committed to its plans to spur growth, to weaken the yen and to fight deflation. Political pressure on the Bank of Japan has been mounting and could force the central bank to cave in by announcing more QE, while also changing its inflation target from 1% to 2%, as requested by the Prime Minister. In a report last week, Reuters cited sources at the Bank of Japan that the bank "will set 2% inflation as a new target and will also consider making an open-ended commitment to buy assets until the target is in sight." If this is what the Bank of Japan announces, a version of "QE Forever" by the Japanese central bank might be something that has not been fully priced into the yen exchange rate and could give further impetus to yen selling.
2. EUR- Euro-zone ZEW Economic Sentiment Index, a leading indicator of economic conditions measuring the outlook of financial experts, Tues., Jan. 22, 5:00 am, ET.
The ZEW institute survey is expected to show significant improvement in economic outlook with a reading of 12.0 in January compared with 6.9 in the previous month.
3. USD- U.S. Existing Home Sales, the main gauge of the condition of the U.S. housing market measuring the number of closed sales of previously constructed homes, condominiums and co-ops, Tues., Jan. 22, 10:00 am, ET.
In line with the trend of improvement in the housing market, sales of existing homes in the U.S. are forecast to increase to 5.09 million in December, compared with 5.04 million in November.
4. GBP- Bank of England Meeting Minutes, a detailed report of the bank's latest meeting containing an outlook on economic policy and economic conditions, Wed., Jan. 23, 4:30 am, ET.
Recent U.K. data has failed to instill confidence in the economy and has renewed concerns of a triple-dip recession. The minutes would probably confirm that policy makers did not think that a change in monetary policy in January was necessary. However, this doesn't mean that the Monetary Policy Committee is not standing ready to expand the size of its QE operations if economic conditions deteriorate. The GBP could see pressures mounting, especially if the minutes remind the markets that the Bank of England's QE door is not completely shut yet.
5. CAD- Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement, Wed., Jan. 23, 10:00 am, ET.
The Bank of Canada will not be in a hurry to make any changes to its existing monetary policy and will be likely to leave the benchmark rate at the current 1.0% level. On the other hand, compared with the rest of the major central banks, the Bank of Canada still remains as the most likely candidate to tighten monetary policy later in 2013 or early 2014 and the CAD should benefit from such expectations.
6. JPY- Japan Trade Balance of the difference between imports and exports, Wed., Jan. 23, 6:50 pm, ET.
A month after the yen started its decline in November, the benefits of a weaker currency could be reflected in the December trade balance data with the deficit forecast to narrow down to 534 billion yen, compared with 953.4 billion in the previous month.
7. EUR- Euro-zone Composite PMI- Purchasing Managers Index, a leading indicator of economic conditions measuring activity in the manufacturing and services sectors, Thurs., Jan. 24, 4:00 am, ET.
Despite of some small improvements expected, the euro-zone manufacturing and services indexes are forecast to stay in contraction territory below the 50 boom/bust line for another month with manufacturing activity at 46.5 in January from 46.1 in December and services at 48.0 in January compared with 47.8 in the previous month. With economic growth still nowhere to be seen, the report could weigh on the EUR by increasing the odds that the European Central Bank might be forced to consider additional monetary policy easing measures in the near future.
8. EUR- Germany IFO Business Climate Index, a leading indicator of economic conditions measuring the outlook of businesses, Fri., Jan. 25, 4:00 am, ET.
The business outlook in the euro-zone's largest economy is forecast to improve with an increase in the Ifo index to 103.0 in January, compared with a reading of 102.4 in the previous month.
9. GBP- U.K. GDP- Gross Domestic Product, the main measure of economic activity and growth, Fri., Jan. 25, 4:30 am, ET.
Following three consecutive quarters of contraction, the U.K. returned to growth in Q3 2012, but the economy is forecast to take a turn for the worse and to contract again by 0.2% q/q in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Q4 GDP estimate could escalate fears of a triple-dip recession in the U.K., putting pressure on the GBP on expectations of more QE by the Bank of England.
10. USD- U.S. New Home Sales, an important gauge of housing market conditions measuring sales of newly constructed homes, Fri., Jan. 25, 10:00 am, ET.
The consensus forecasts point to yet another upbeat housing market report with sales of new homes in the U.S. expected to increase to 385K in December from 377K in November.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.