Stimulus Check – Fed, ECB minutes and all eyes on China inflation
(Reuters) – Minutes of the June meetings of the U.S. Fed and the ECB, plus the latest inflation data from China – here’s a rapid tour of next week’s top economic events and themes to be covered by Reuters bureaus.
The week after the U.S. payrolls report is typically one of the lightest of the month in terms of economic reports, and next week is no exception.
That said, the week features one marquee and likely market-jarring release: The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting, when officials opened debate on how to end crisis-era bond-buying and signalled interest rate increases were closer on the horizon than previously thought.
The readout of the June 16-17 Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. U.S. eastern time (1800 GMT) will shed light on the depth of the division among the 18 policymakers as they approach a critical turning point for monetary policy in the world’s largest – and now booming – economy. Four signposts of what to look for:
Inflation: With inflation topping the Fed’s 2% target, how deep does tolerance for that overshoot run among officials?
Employment: Will some policymakers push the theory that an outright return to pre-COVID employment levels is unlikely, raising questions about their “maximum employment” target?
Bonds taper: The taper debate is fully underway. Questions include when and how fast they start dialing back purchases of $80 billion a month of Treasuries and $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities.
Interest rates: Is the debate moving towards an earlier move? FOMC members’ projections brought forward the median expectation for a first rate hike to 2023 from 2024 at the June meeting and a substantial minority of members circled 2022 for the first increase.
In Europe, concern over the impact of new coronavirus variants on the summer tourism – crucial to southern economies like Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain – will continue to dominate next week as hotel bookings fall well short of pre-pandemic levels.
On Tuesday, Britain’s fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, publishes its annual report on risks ahead for the public finances with a focus this year on the damage done by COVID-19, climate change and the implications of higher interest rates for debt servicing costs.
The European Central Bank releases the account of its June policy meeting on Thursday. ECB-watchers will also be on alert for news coming out of a series of meetings set in coming weeks to fine-tune its strategic view.
The Bank wants to revamp its inflation target – currently set out close to but not exceeding 2% – but sources said wide differences remain among top policymakers. The aim is to get the review done by September.
In Asia, Australia’s central bank on Tuesday will likely leave its cash rate at a record low and adopt a “flexible” approach to its bond-buying programme. Economic outcomes far exceed expectations but recent COVID outbreaks across the country and a slow vaccination rollout add some risks to the outlook. Already, analysts expect the R(BA) to be one of the slowest central banks in the developed world to do away with crisis era stimulus.
Malaysia’s central bank holds its policy meeting on Thursday with no change expected. Focus will be on the recovery outlook.
Finally, China will release fresh inflation data on Friday. One focus would be on the cost of raw materials, which have soared due to higher commodity prices, and whether these increases are being passed onto the consumer.
Reporting by Reuters bureaus; compiled by Mark John, Dan Burns, Sam Holmes; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa