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Economics Weekly: December manufacturing & services surveys and US non-farm payrolls launch the New Year

Economics Weekly  24 December 2007

The next Economics Weekly is published on January 7th 2008. We wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year

December manufacturing & services surveys and US non-farm payrolls launch the New Year

2008 promises to be another interesting year. With significant variance in the range of forecasts on offer and fast changing perceptions of risk, financial markets could be in for a prolonged period of volatility. Key themes for 2008 include, have central banks averted a massive rise in corporate defaults or will further cash injections be required as losses continue to be disclosed? Will the US housing market recover? Will the UK housing market collapse? Is the UK retail sector in for a tough period? Are we in for another bout of strong M&A activity? Will commodity markets and emerging market equities come off the boil? Are markets too complacent about inflation risk, so will bond yields rise in the major economies? Answers to these questions will become clearer through economic data releases and policy action/ statements as the year unfolds.

Whereas this week, markets are likely to be mostly closed and/ or uneventful, the New Year launches with a set of key survey and jobs data, which will either confirm fears of slower growth or raise hopes of a speedier recovery in the major economies. Global central banks have offloaded a massive amount of cash into the financial system, which could add to existing inflation pressures, especially in the eurozone, if not timely drained. So whereas slower economic growth may take the edge off inflation in the months ahead, too loose monetary policy may trigger too strong a recovery, raising inflation above comfort levels. So UK and US interest rates may not fall as far and as fast as markets expect, while the ECB may still raise rates.

• Following sterling's break below $2 last Wednesday, as the unanimous MPC decision to cut interest rates and a weaker than expected set of UK data, raised the prospect of the BoE aggressively cutting rates, market participants are on the look out for more bad news on the economy. Nationwide house prices may confirm a sharp slowdown, published Friday, but apart from that, sterling is likely to be driven by technicals and year-end positioning/ settlement and markets will have to wait for key data releases in the New Year. US consumer confidence for December is due on Thursday and could strengthen a touch, but new home sales may still be falling, due Friday. Japan issues a set of CPI, industrial output and retail sales data as well as the minutes of the BoJ's last monetary policy meeting this week.

• Markets are closed for New Year's Day on Tuesday, but open with gusto on Wednesday, anticipating weaker manufacturing confidence in the UK, the US and the EU-13 (final) during December. Also, at 19:00, the US Fed releases minutes of the December 11th monetary policy meeting when its main funding rate was cut 0.25% to 4.25%. Wednesday features the US ADP employment report and factory orders and EU-13 M3 money supply. Friday is the heaviest day of the week for data, with service reports likely to show that confidence in the eurozone area may have continued to have been negatively impacted on by wholesale funding pressures in December, while service sector confidence in the UK and the US may have improved. Preliminary EU-13 CPI inflation in December may stay around last month's 3.1% level, giving support to the ECB's decision to leave official rates unchanged. The US non-farm payrolls jobs figure may come in at 110,000 in December, up from 94,000 in November.

Nichola James, Senior Economist

Economic Research,
Lloyds TSB Corporate
Markets,
10 Gresham Street,
London EC2V 7AE
,
Switchboard:
0207 626 - 1500
www.lloydstsb.com/corporatemarkets

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