Washington, US (BBN) – It’s a monster week for central bank meetings across the globe, with most of the focus falling on Wednesday’s Federal Reserve’s meeting, where it is expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point.
Europe’s top two central banks, the European Central Bank and Bank of England, will also hold their final meetings of the year this week, though it’s highly unlikely either will rock the boat policy-wise, reports Investing.com.
A monetary policy announcement from the Swiss National Bank will also be in focus.
Investors will also keep an eye out for Chinese industrial production data amid recent signs that momentum in the world’s second largest economy is slowing.
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. FEDERAL RESERVE RATE DECISION
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise the fed funds target range by a quarter point at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting at 2:00PM ET (1900GMT) on Wednesday, which would put it in a range between 1.25%-1.50%.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is to hold what will be a closely-watched press conference 30 minutes after the release of the Fed’s statement, as investors look for fresh clues on the likely trajectory of monetary policy in the months ahead.
The US central bank will also release its latest forecasts for economic growth and interest rates, known as the “dot-plot”. The Fed has forecast three rate rises for next year, and it is expected to keep its outlook about the same even though the market has been skeptical it will hike as much as it expects.
This week’s meeting will be the last under the leadership of Janet Yellen, whose term ends in February, when she will be replaced by Fed Governor Jerome Powell.
Besides the Fed, this week’s calendar also features top-tier US data on inflation, retail sales, producer prices, industrial production as well as a survey on manufacturing conditions in the New York area.
Meanwhile, tax reform legislation will remain on the agenda, as lawmakers work to push through a bill to overhaul the tax code ahead of a self-imposed Dec. 22 deadline.
Market players will also be on the lookout for more headlines about the ongoing FBI probe into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign.
2. EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK POLICY MEETING
The European Central Bank’s latest interest rate decision is due at 1245GMT (7:45AM ET) on Thursday, with no major policy changes expected.
Most of the focus will be on President Mario Draghi’s press conference 45 minutes after the announcement, where he is most likely to reiterate his pledge to support the economy and maintain super-low borrowing costs in the months ahead.
The ECB will also unveil initial 2020 inflation projections, which will likely show price growth at or just below target, rising only gradually over the coming three years, lending support to the bank’s decision to withdraw monetary stimulus only slowly.
In October, the ECB said it would cut its bond purchases in half from January, but extended the program until the end of September and left the door open to backtracking, citing muted price pressures.
Besides the ECB, market players will eye flash survey data on December euro zone business activity due on Thursday to gauge the strength of the region’s economy. There is also a survey on German business morale from the ZEW institute scheduled for Tuesday.
3. BANK OF ENGLAND POLICY ANNOUNCEMENT
The Bank of England will announce its rate decision at 1200GMT (7:00AM ET) on Thursday, with analysts expecting no major change in policy, as policymakers grapple with uncertainty over Brexit, low wage growth and weak productivity, which are all weighing on the economy.
Last month, the BoE added back the 25 basis points it took off borrowing costs in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, taking interest rates back to 0.50%, but said it sees only gradual rises ahead as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
According to market experts, the British central bank is not expected to raise rates again until towards the end of 2018, when it will add another 25 basis points.
Besides the BoE, traders will focus on monthly inflation, employment and retail sales reports for further indications on the continued effect that the Brexit decision is having on the economy.
Politics is likely to be at the back of investors’ minds, as they keep an ear out for any news regarding the Brexit negotiations after Britain and the EU reached an 11th-hour deal on Friday that allows the second phase of Brexit negotiations, on future trade relations, to proceed. Next up is the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels on Dec. 14-15.
4. SNB POLICY ASSESSMENT
The Swiss National Bank’s quarterly monetary policy assessment is due on Thursday at 0830GMT (3:30AM ET). Most economists expect the central bank’s benchmark interest rate to remain unchanged at -0.75%.
The SNB is also expected to stick to its commitment to foreign currency interventions if necessary.
SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan is expected to repeat that the Swiss franc remains “highly valued”, despite a brighter economic outlook and recent weakening of the currency.
Most analysts expected the central bank to stay on hold until the European Central Bank makes its own move to raise interest rates.
5. CHINA INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT
China is to release November industrial production figures at around 0200GMT on Thursday, amid expectations for an increase of 6.2%, unchanged from the preceding month.
At the same time, the Asian nation will publish reports on fixed asset investment, retail sales, housing prices and the latest loan growth numbers.
Soft PMI data on manufacturing and non-manufacturing activity last month indicated the Chinese economy is slowing going into the fourth quarter of the year. A Chinese slowdown is one of the major risks to continued global growth.