The look ahead: US consumer confidence, Europe outlook, and ERM muster

Economic indicators will offer a status check on the troubled euro zone, and several key reports will gauge US consumer confidence. Also, ERM experts are gathering in Atlanta. Here’s a closer look at the week ahead.

European outlook

Four upcoming reports will offer glimpses of how much the global economic slowdown and the continued euro-zone debt troubles are affecting economies in EU countries.

On Tuesday, the Centre for European Economic Research releases the results of its financial market survey, which reflects how German financial experts feel about that nation’s economic conditions. Sentiment has been rising, and in February it reached its most optimistic level since April 2011. However, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development projected a period of weak growth.

Economic indicators with a broader European perspective will come out Wednesday and Friday.

On Wednesday, the EU’s statistical agency releases the harmonised index of consumer prices, which is an internationally comparable measure of inflation. Industrial production data, which reflect changes in factory output for EU member states, will also be released Wednesday. Merchandise trade balance data, which measures the difference between imports and exports, follows on Friday.

US consumer sentiment

Unemployment has been falling in the US in recent months. In the week ahead, we’ll see if that trend is translating into increased confidence among American consumers, whose spending makes up about two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product. Two reports will help tell the tale.

On Tuesday, the US Census Bureau will release retail sales estimates for February. Last month, the government estimated that January sales were 5.8% higher than January 2011. On Friday, Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan release their preliminary monthly index on consumer sentiment, which last month reached a one-year high.

ERM experts gather in Atlanta

Enterprise risk management experts will gather next Friday in Atlanta for the ERM Roundtable Summit, which is put on by North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management. Among the corporations represented on ERM expert panels are Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin and Standard & Poor’s.

N.C. State has organised the summits to keep top executives abreast of risk management concepts and strategic planning.

For a look at US financial reporting and economic news, visit the Journal of Accountancy.