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WEEK IN FOCUS - 30/01/12 - 03/02/12

So we begin the week with a not-so-official-summit, but an informal meeting of members of the European Council as uncertainty still hangs over Greece and whether they'll receive their next tranche of aid. This meeting was originally scheduled to be an official summit, but with strikes in Belgium, and with more time needed to seemingly make solid decisions within the Eurozone, this meeting will no-doubt be less momentous than previously planned. That being said the heads of state and government are expected to endorse treaties on the ESM and the fiscal compact, with developments on the ESM the headline focus. It was initially decided to make the ESM operational as of mid-2013, but the procedure has since been fast-tracked, meaning it is now expected that the EU treaty change needed to create the ESM and the national parliamentary voting on the ESM treaty will be done by June of this year, in order to make the ESM operational from July. The treaty should enter into force on 1 January 2013, this is however provided that 12 Eurozone countries, not 15 or 9 as previously drafted, ratify it.

With the slight disappointment lingering from the previous couple of weeks, this one looks to be of a slightly more fruitful nature, with comments from the IIF who said they expect to conclude their talks this week as discussions on other issues move forward. Although this seems positive, to be frank, we have all heard similar comments before that failed to materialise. There has also been talk circulating in recent times that Germany is demanding powers for veto over Greece's budget process. Despite this talk being waved off by Greek finance minister Venizelos, the German economy minister Roesler was quoted as saying on Sunday that 'Greece must surrender control of its budget policy to outside institutions if it cannot implement reforms attached to Eurozone rescue measures'. These pretty uncompromising comments from Roesler ahead of the meeting of these leaders in Brussels today mean developments on this issue will be monitored with close attention, and any expansion a key topic of interest.

Moving away from Europe, over the Atlantic and into the US, the focus for the week will be the keenly followed monthly Nonfarm payroll numbers on Friday, as we leave January and begin a new period of economic data releases. The consensus for the January non-farm number is currently 150K after last months solid 200K reading, although December's job gain was boosted by a temporary hiring spurt in the "couriers & messengers" industry, due to Christmas demand for goods and online shopping. With the reduction in Christmas and New Year shopping as we head into February, the change in number of employees looks to be on the downside, which will likely reflect in Friday's reading. Back in Europe, data will be kick-started on Monday with the German CPI's, firstly from the six-states that make up the final reading, followed by the final reading itself. It's likely that January's monthly reading will show a further decline, translating into a small rise in the annual inflation rate with the medium forecast of 2.0%, which by no mistake is inline with the ECB's mandated target.

Earnings season continues in full-swing in the US this week, and of interest the world no.1 Exxon Mobil is due to report on Tuesday pre-market. Leading up to their Q4 earnings report analysts have become increasingly bearish on the company, although estimates are for a 8.1% increase from the year-ago quarter, when Exxon Mobil reported an EPS of USD 1.85, now expecting an EPS of USD 2.00. One of Exxon's main competitors in the oil & gas industry, Chevron, disappointed somewhat last week as they missed on their headline EPS, which could be an indication of the fate of Exxon come Tuesday's report.