Economic Diary

WHILE US banks will be dominating the calendar across the Atlantic next week, in Britain it is definitely the economic releases that will be taking centre stage. Kicking off is the property website Rightmove’s January house asking price survey, released this morning. The survey shows a monthly rise of 0.4 per cent and a 4.1 per cent lift in the last year.

UK December inflation – released tomorrow at 9.30am – is expected to jump sharply. Investec analysts are forecasting a surge of 2.7 per cent, driven by base effects from December 2008’s VAT rate cut.

There was a shock fall in the number of unemployed claiming job seeker’s allowance in October, so November’s unemployment data will be keenly watched on Wednesday (9.30am) for signs that October was either a blip or the start of sustained improvement in the labour market.

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will release the minutes of its January meeting on Wednesday, also at 9.30am. Traders will be looking for clues as to the committee’s views on whether the recovery is still on track and its response to the recent strong inflation.

In the pre-Budget Report, Alistair Darling said he now expected public sector net borrowing to hit £178bn in 2009-10. Thursday’s UK public finance data should provide some guidance as to whether the Treasury is on course to meet that target.

The British Retail Consortium’s December data was extraordinarily healthy so it will be interesting to see what Friday’s official retail sales data, out at 9.30am, shows.

Also out next week for the UK are December mortgage approvals at 9.30am on Thursday and the Confederation for British Industry’s (CBI) Quarterly Industrial Trends survey.

There are two big data releases in the Eurozone next week. First is the ZEW think-tank’s survey of economic sentiment, released tomorrow at 10am UK time. On Thursday, the preliminary purchasing managers’ indices for Eurozone countries will be published at 9am.

Markets will be closed in the US today due to the Martin Luther King holiday so no data releases are planned.