January’s delayed retail sales figures, February’s inflation numbers and the latest report on durable goods orders all take on added significance, particularly after a recent batch of disappointing data showing that both consumers and businesses have pulled back.
There is also a key Brexit vote scheduled for Tuesday to keep an eye on. Just 19 days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, lawmakers are expected to reject British Prime Minster Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which could reignite fears about an eventual no-deal Brexit outcome.
Elsewhere, China has key data, including the latest reading on industrial production, which will be watched for further signs of damage from the ongoing trade spat with the U.S. Data at the end of last week showed that China’s exports in February tumbled the most in three years, while imports fell for a third straight month, pointing to a further slowdown in the economy.
Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the five biggest events on the economic calendar that are most likely to affect the markets.
1. U.S. Retail Sales
The Commerce Department will release data on retail sales for January at 8:30AM ET (12:30 GMT) on Monday.
The consensus forecast is that the report, delayed by roughly three weeks due to the government shutdown, will show retail sales were flat, following a plunge of 1.2% in December, which was the largest decline since September 2009.
Excluding the automobile sector, sales are expected to rise 0.4%, bouncing back from a drop of 1.8% in the preceding month.Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.
2. U.S. Inflation
The Commerce Department will publish February CPI figures at 8:30AM ET (12:30 GMT) Tuesday. Consumer prices are expected to have risen 0.2% last month, according to estimates, compared to January’s flat reading. On a yearly base, CPI is projected to climb 1.6%, the same gain recorded a month earlier.
Excluding the cost of food and fuel, core inflation prices are forecast to have gained 0.2% last month and 2.2% over the prior year.
3. U.S. Durable Goods Orders
The Commerce Department will release data on January durable goods orders at 8:30AM ET (12:30 GMT) Wednesday. The consensus forecast is that the report will show orders for durable goods fell by 0.7% last month. Core orders, which exclude volatile transportation items, are forecast to rise 0.2%.
Also on the economic calendar this week will be producer price inflation figures, a preliminary reading on Michigan consumer sentiment, as well as the latest JOLTS report.
Meanwhile, the Fed will largely be out of the picture in the coming week, with officials from the U.S. central bank in a blackout period ahead of the March 19-20 meeting. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell is slated to appear in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
The U.S. central bank, after raising interest rates four times last year, has signaled recently that it will be “patient” before tightening monetary policy further, in a nod to rising concerns about the economic outlook.
4. Brexit Vote
With less than three weeks to go until Britain is expected to leave the European Union, investors will keep a watchful eye on the British parliament’s vote on whether to approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.
May’s government is scrambling – so far unsuccessfully – to secure last-minute changes to an exit agreement she negotiated with the EU before Tuesday’s vote.
If she fails, lawmakers are expected to force May to seek a delay to Brexit that some fear could see the 2016 decision to leave the bloc reversed. Others argue that without a delay Britain faces chaos if it leaves without a deal on March 29. Besides Brexit, market players will focus on monthly GDP figures for further hints on the health of the economy.
5. China Industrial Output
China will release January industrial production figures on Thursday morning. The consensus among analysts is that the data will show China’s factory output grew 5.5%, slowing from a gain of 5.7% recorded in December. At the same time, the Asian nation will publish reports on fixed asset investment and retail sales.
Recent data has shown that China’s economy is still losing steam, after growth last year cooled to a near 30-year low, highlighting the fallout from the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.