By Teh Shi Ning
SINGAPORE - It's a big week for the world economy, with two critical central bank meetings and an unusually heavy load of economic data being released across US, Europe and Asia.
The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank policymakers will issue policy statements this week amid heightened expectations of measures to stimulate a faltering global economy.
Meanwhile, the deluge of data is largely expected to reiterate three key themes that have dominated the global economy thus far this year: a flagging US recovery, deepening recession in Europe and slowing growth engines in Asia.
Forecasters polled by Bloomberg say US consumer data due today could show a fifth consecutive drop in consumer confidence in July, after Americans stayed cautious and consumer spending rose less than their incomes in June.
Companies have already turned cautious and though the mid-week US Institute of Supply Management survey is expected to show a slight lift in manufacturing activities, that remains at depressed levels.
In addition, the most critical jobs report this Friday, which includes closely watched non-farm payrolls data, is expected to confirm the fact that the US economy's recovery is stalling. The consensus forecast from economists is for a lacklustre pace of hiring in July that will fail to trim an unemployment rate stuck at above 8 per cent.
The Federal Open Market Committee meets after last week's report that US GDP growth slowed to 1.5 per cent in Q2 from 2 per cent in Q1 and before the release of jobs data.
Opinions are divided on the timing of another round of quantitative easing from US policymakers, but global stock markets extended their rallies yesterday, buoyed by hopes that both the Fed and the ECB's meetings will yield stimulus measures.
Capital Economics' Paul Dales says that though US' Q2 data shows that the economy has lost momentum this year, the recent data "hasn't been quite weak enough to prompt the Fed into launching QE3 at this week's policy meeting".
Market expectations of fresh moves to combat the eurozone debt crisis and recession in Europe are high after ECB president Mario Draghi pledged last week to do "whatever it takes" to safeguard the euro.
But Europe too, will see a host of data releases this week likely to underscore its deepening economic woes.
Economists polled by Bloomberg predict that the eurozone's unemployment rate, due tomorrow, rose to 11.2 per cent to June from a record 11.1 per cent in May.
Final eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) readings on Wednesday are also expected to confirm weak flash estimates for July, which earlier signalled that the currency area's economy shrank a 10th time in the past 11 months.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, which compiles the PMI, said the euro area downturn "shows no signs of letting up at the start of the third quarter", with Germany now contracting at its steepest rate in three years.