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The Federal Open Market Committee monetary policy meeting will take the center stage in the week ahead as traders eagerly await the Fed’s choice of tools to accelerate the “frustratingly slow” pace of recovery.

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. AUD- Reserve Bank of Australia Meeting Minutes, a comprehensive report of the central bank’s meeting that could provide an outlook on the economy, interest rates and future monetary policy, Mon., Sept. 19, 9:30 pm, ET.

In recent weeks, the Reserve Bank of Australia and other central banks have made it clear that growth has become their main focus. The minutes would be likely to echo that view and confirm the market’s expectations that RBA may be steering further away from monetary policy tightening, especially after another disappointing employment report from “down under” which showed the Australian “miracle economy” unexpectedly losing jobs for a second consecutive month.

2. EUR- Euro-zone ZEW Economic Sentiment Index, a leading indicator of economic conditions and business expectations, Tues., Sept. 20, 5:00 am, ET.

The ZEW institute’s survey could serve as a barometer of the deteriorating economic conditions in the Euro-zone with the economic sentiment index forecast to register a larger -45.0 decline in September, compared with -37.6 in August.

3. USD- U.S. Housing Starts, a leading indicator of housing market activity measuring construction of new residential properties, Tues., Sept. 20, 8:30 am, ET.

As the Fed’s two-day meeting begins, the U.S. housing data could keep reminding the FOMC policy makers of the weakness in the sector. The U.S. housing starts are forecast to drop to 590K in August from 604K in July, while the building permits remain unchanged at 600K.

4. GBP- Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee Meeting Minutes, a comprehensive report of the central bank’s meeting that could provide an outlook on the economy, interest rates and future monetary policy, Wed., Sept. 21, 4:30 am, ET.

With the U.K. economy slowing and more policy makers, not only at the Bank of England but also in the U.K. government, warming up to the idea of additional quantitative easing, the minutes could weigh on the GBP if the report reveals that the central bank may be one step closer to an expansion of its 200Bn pounds Asset Purchase Program.

5. CAD- Canada CPI- Consumer Price Index, the main measure of inflation, Wed., Sept. 21, 7:00 am, ET.

The Bank of Canada’s cautious outlook on the economy and expectations of a pullback in price pressures could be confirmed by a smaller 0.1% m/m increase in the consumer price index in August, compared with the 0.2% m/m increase in July.

6. 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, Wed., Sept. 21, 10:00 am, ET.

Although the sales of existing homes in the U.S. are forecast to rise to 4.75M in August from 4.67M in July, the report will not be likely to convince the markets of a housing market recovery.

7. USD- FOMC- Federal Open Market Committee Interest Rate Announcement, Wed., Sept. 21, 2:15 pm, ET.

In the countdown to the Fed’s September 20-21 meeting, each weak U.S. economic report kept reinforcing the market’s expectations that the Fed may have no other choice but to try to restart the economic recovery, quite possibly at the expense of the U.S. dollar. With some policy makers at the Federal Open Market Committee calling for a “more substantial move” at the Aug. 9 meeting, QE3 may be just around the corner.

8. NZD- New Zealand GDP- Gross Domestic Product, the main measure of economic activity and growth, Wed., Sept. 21, 6:45 pm, ET.

After growing by 0.8% q/q in the first quarter of 2011, the New Zealand economy is forecast to register slower economic growth by 0.5% q/q in Q2 2011. Despite of the RBNZ Governor’s statement that “so far global risks haven’t had a real impact on the New Zealand economy”, further economic slowdown should keep the Reserve Bank of New Zealand from considering monetary policy tightening in the near future.

9. EUR- Euro-zone Composite PMI- Purchasing Managers Index, a leading indicator of economic activity in the manufacturing and service sectors, Thurs., Sept. 22, 4:00 am, ET.

The signs of a slowdown in the Euro-zone could become even more visible as the Flash Composite PMI drops in contraction territory below 50 with a preliminary estimate of 49.8 in September, compared with 50.7 in August.

10. USD- U.S. Jobless Claims, an important gauge of employment trends and labor market conditions, Thurs., Sept. 22, 8:30 am, ET.

Remaining above 375K, the level below which economists estimate that jobless applications would need to fall in order to see a significant decline in unemployment, first-time applications for unemployment benefits are expected to reach 418K from 428K in the previous week.

Source: Trading Week Outlook: September 18 - 23, 2011