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ECONOMIC DIARY

WHILE the general election will be the primary concern, there are plenty of other economic data releases that traders should be watching out for over this short trading week.

This morning, we will find out how well the UK manufacturing sector thinks it is doing from the April purchasing managers’ index (PMI) at 9.30am. We will also get an update on consumer lending and final broad money supply data.

UK construction PMI is released on Wednesday, while Markit will update us on the strength of the Eurozone services sector. The indication at the moment is for expansion at a constant rate in April.

Across the Atlantic, the closely-watched ISM non-manufacturing survey will give us an idea of the health of the US services sector. According to forecasts, jobs data scheduled for release Wednesday should show that the private sector continue to add jobs in April. A positive number will boost analysts’ expectations for Friday’s non-farm payrolls data.

Besides the election, Thursday is shaping up to be a busy day. The European Central Bank (ECB) is due to make its interest rate decision. The Greek bailout has provided a dramatic setting for the ECB’s announcement and press conference on Thursday, says Investec’s David Page. He adds that recent credit rating agency downgrades have revived the risk that Greek sovereign debt could become ineligible for ECB market operations – just one month after the Council amended rules to accommodate Greece.

He expects this to be a topic again, but is still looking for no other alteration in policy or outlook.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will be speaking at 2.20pm UK time. Given the raft of economic and political data due out at the end of the week, Thursday and Friday are likely to be volatile trading sessions. By Friday, we ought to have a clearer idea of the political situation in Britain, although a hung parliament may leave the outlook still clouded.

But US jobs data should be positive – analysts are on average expecting a rise in the number of employed of about 175,000.