Growth concerns came back to the fore in the wake of disappointing releases in the US and China as well as a downward revision to global growth forecasts by the International Monetary Fund. Data releases this week will not do much to allay growth fears. Although the advance reading of Q1 US GDP is likely to reveal a firm 3% QoQ annualised outcome the momentum in the US economy clearly tailed off towards the end of the quarter as more forward looking data releases attest to. The US and global economy is likely to pick up steam as the year progresses but admittedly recent data releases point to a similar pattern as recent years of firm Q1 activity followed by weakness later.
Meanwhile in Europe, purchasing managers’ indices and the German IFO business sentiment survey will show some further moderation, while credit conditions remain constrained indicating a downbeat outlook over the rest of the year. Consequently pressure for a policy rate cut from the European Central Bank is likely to intensify, with a cut likely by the end of this quarter. EUR/USD continues to trade above its 1.3001 technical support level but momentum is fading. Weaker economic data this week will likely undermine the EUR further.
Following last week’s strong volatility in commodity and gold prices in particular some stability is likely over coming days, with gold retracing some of its losses and regaining the USD 1400 level. Equity markets finished the week in firmer mood after falls earlier in the week but the plethora of US Q1 earnings scheduled over coming days will help to determine whether the gains can be held. So far earnings have beaten expectations on balance, but notably expectations have been fairly low in the first place.
There was plenty of attention on currencies at the G20 meeting but the final outcome left the door open to further JPY weakness while the communiqué highlighted the “unintended negative side effects” for easier monetary policy. Although this was a veiled warning about potential build up of asset price bubbles as central banks ease policy, it is unlikely to sway the Bank of Japan from accelerating its balance sheet expansion. Aside from a probable breach of USD/JPY 100 there is unlikely to be much follow through from the G20 meeting this week.