Article / 26 March 2015 at 6:02 GMT

3 Numbers: German consumers upbeat, US jobless claims, US services PMI

editor/analyst / CapitalSpectator.com
United States
  • Today’s monthly GfK report will show an improving German consumer mood
  • US jobless claims should rise slightly in another sign of temporary turbulence
  • The March US Services PMI should hold steady at the bullish pace set in February

By James Picerno

The pace of economic news picks up today, starting with an update on the mood in Germany’s consumer sector via the monthly release of Gfk's survey numbers. There’s also a range of US updates to review on Thursday, including the weekly report on jobless claims and the flash estimate for the Services PMI in March.

Germany: Gfk Consumer Climate Index (07:00 GMT) Data releases for Europe’s biggest economy continue to go from strength to strength. The latest example is yesterday’s news that business confidence improved again in March, based on the Ifo Business Climate Index, which reflects views on the current situation and the near-term outlook. The benchmark, which draws on survey numbers for 7,000 executives, ticked up to an eight-month high.

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Growth engine fires up .. the expected incremental rise in US jobless claims is probably
only a temporary setback before a spring revival kicks in. Photo: iStock


Today’s focus turns to the mood in the consumer sector via Gfk’s Consumer Climate Index. Here, too, the trend has been positive. In the previous update, sentiment rose for the fifth straight month, reaching a 14-year high. Today’s report, which is framed as a forecast for April, is expected to build on the recent momentum. Econoday.com’s consensus forecast sees the Consumer Climate Index rising to 9.8, up a bit from the 9.7 reading in the previous release.

Germany’s stock market anticipates as much. The DAX Index has been treading water over the past several trading days, but the latest consolidation phase follows a strong rally in 2015 that leaves the benchmark with a 20%-plus rise on a year-to-date basis through yesterday’s close.

The Bundesbank is on board with the bullish revisions for macro expectations. Germany’s economy is on track to generate “strong” growth in this year’s first half, the bank advised this week in its monthly report. “For the second quarter, too, the robust economic uptrend will continue. The main driving forces are foreign demand, private consumption and, to a lesser extent, residential construction.”

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US: Initial Jobless Claims (12:30 GMT) February’s wobbly economic numbers look troubling, but the early clues for March suggest that the recent deceleration in growth really is weather related. This week’s update of business survey data for the manufacturing sector in March perked up to a five-month high. New orders and job creation in particular posted strong numbers, according to the flash estimate of Markit’s purchasing managers index.

The recent decline in jobless claims offers support for thinking that warmer weather will accompany a revival in growth. After a worrisome rise last month that pushed new filings for unemployment to the highest level since last spring, claims pulled back from the brink in early March. The acid test for judging the economy is next week’s monthly employment report for March. Meanwhile, the latest jobless claims releases suggest that the recent strength in the labour market remains intact, albeit with a bit of turbulence along the way.

Today’s update isn’t expected to deliver any reason to think otherwise. Briefing.com’s consensus forecast calls for an incremental rise of 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000. That's a rounding error for such a volatile series. The prediction, if it holds, will provide support for anticipating that any turbulence in the US economy of late is temporary and will give way to a strong run of numbers as the spring updates unfold.

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US: Services PMI (13:45 GMT) Markit’s survey numbers for the services sector will draw close attention today as another tool for deciding if the macro trend is on the rebound in March. That was the message in the PMI report for manufacturing that was published earlier this week. If today’s figures for the services sector dispense a similar signal, the case will strengthen for expecting that the US economy will remain on a solid growth path for the near term.

In fact, today’s update is expected to hold steady for the flash estimate for March vs. the previous month. That’s a bullish forecast when you consider that economic activity in the services sector accelerated to a strong pace in February: the PMI jumped to 57.1, far above the 50.0 mark that separates growth from contraction. Keep in mind that the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index also rebounded sharply last month, offering corroboration for PMI’s encouraging rise in February.

To sum up, no change will be greeted as good news for today’s release, thereby reinforcing the argument that the soft numbers in some corners of the economy last month are only a temporary setback.
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– Edited by Robert Ryan

James Picerno is a macro analyst/editor at CapitalSpectator.com. Follow James or post your comment below to engage with Saxo Bank's social trading platform.


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