Key events in developed markets and EMEA next week

Even though the December jobs and inflation numbers came in somewhat hotter than expected, financial markets continue to gun for rate cuts, with 150bp priced for the end of 2024. We expect reasonably firm data again this coming week, but the focus is likely to be on whether Federal Reserve officials look to push back against what the market believes.

US retail sales are likely to have grown solidly in December, with consumer confidence buoyed by rising equity markets. We know that auto volumes rose 3% to an annualised 15.8m units while weekly credit card spending numbers held up well, with prices rising 0.3% month-on-month, according to CPI data – remember this is a dollar value figure report. Industrial production won’t be as robust though, expanding perhaps 0.1%, with manufacturing set to be close to flat on the month given the ISM manufacturing report has been in contraction territory since October 2022. Autos may be a bright spot as output continues to recover from earlier strike action, but weak order books are an issue for most other sub-sectors. Utilities output will be a drag given warm weather implies less heating demand while oil and gas extraction may have been helped by those warmer weather conditions.

Housing starts and existing home sales data will also be published. Housing starts surged 14.8% in November and a substantial correction lower is expected for December in what has become quite a volatile series. There is a lack of existing homes for sale and this is supporting new home construction, but means that existing home sales are likely to continue to languish. Mortgage applications for home purchases remain close to 30-year lows and home sales are likely to remain at the levels seen at the bottom of the housing crash during the Global Financial Crisis.

Also watch out for the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. This anecdotal survey on the state of the economy often contains valuable insights on what is happening in the economy that don’t get reflected in some of the official data until much later. The Fed also places a lot of significance on this report.

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