Economic Diary

MARKETS are expecting a bumpy ride this week with a slew of data that could derail momentum.

Britons are eagerly awaiting the release of fourth quarter GDP tomorrow, which should show that the UK finally exited recession in the last three months of 2009. The consensus forecast is for output growth of 0.4 per cent.

The GDP figure is the main event this week in the UK, although others to watch out for are the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) January Distributive Trades survey on Wednesday at 11am and the January Nationwide house prices survey expected for Thursday.

Events in the US are expected to dominate the headlines this week with the US is releasing its fourth quarter GDP data on Friday at 1.30pm UK time. Economists are expecting the fourth quarter to be another strong one – the consensus estimate is for an annualised 4.5 per cent – but they are warning traders not to be fooled by the solid number.

Capital Economics’ Paul Ashworth says: “Unfortunately, nearly all the growth was due to the slowdown in the rate of inventory liquidation which, by the end of the quarter, had developed into actual restocking.”

And as if the GDP data wasn’t enough to keep minds busy, there are plenty of other noteworthy events this week.

On Wednesday at 7pm, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) will announce their first rate decision of 2010. The expectation is still for rates to be kept on hold but observers will be watching for any subtle changes in language. President Obama is also giving his State of the Union address on Thursday at 2am UK time.

Other US data includes existing home sales data for December released at 3pm. These figures are likely to confirm that a good deal of the recent surge in housing activity was due to the first tranche of the housing tax credit. January consumer confidence and the November house price index are both published at 3pm on Tuesday.

In the Eurozone, Friday sees the December unemployment rate while confidence data is published on Thursday.

Also of note is the annual World Economic Forum to be held in Davos. It starts on Wednesday and will continue until 31 January.