The look ahead: Economic news to monitor during the week of February 6th

Economists will get a better sense of where the global economy is headed when reports on European interest rates, international trade and the US labour market are released next week.
Europe debt crisis

The debt crisis in Europe will be top of mind Thursday, when the European Central Bank announces its interest rate policy.

Setting interest rates has been a delicate undertaking for the ECB during the current crisis. In December, the ECB cut interest rates to a record low of 1.0%, but some key home loan rates still rose. ECB statistics released today show that loans for initial home purchases of more than 10 years rose from 3.93% to 3.95%. New floating rate mortgages for terms of up to one year also rose, from 3.43% to 3.48%.

A Reuters poll of 66 economists, taken before the ECB met in early January, found that most expected the ECB to cut interest rates further to 0.75% in February or March.

ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny told “The Wall Street Journal” that “there aren’t any concrete plans” for a rate decrease, but he said the ECB does not pre-commit on such issues.

Thursday’s report will be released on the ECB’s website at 7:45 a.m. EST.

International trade

An update on U.S. international trade is due out Friday at 8:30 a.m. EST. The monthly report by the US Census Bureau and US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will detail goods and services trade for December. The report offers data on trade nationally by export, import and trade balance and offers information for 36 countries and geographical regions.

The US monthly international trade deficit rose from $43.3 billion in October to $47.8 billion in November, as imports increased and exports decreased. The US goods deficit with China dropped in November, while goods deficits with Canada and the EU increased.

More report details are available on the BEA website.
US jobs picture

Economists will be watching for signs of continued economic recovery in the US on Thursday. That’s when the US Department of Labor issues a weekly snapshot of US jobless claims.

In recent weeks, fewer workers have been filing for unemployment benefits – a sign the labour market is improving. During the week ending Jan. 28, 367,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims were filed – 12,000 fewer than reported in the previous week. The four-week moving average of new jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 375,750.

Economists had predicted that between 370,000 and 375,000 jobless claims would be filed during the week ending Jan. 28, according to estimates by Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones.

The next weekly jobless claims report will be released on the Labor Department’s website at 8:30 a.m. EST on Thursday.