Spotlight on the U.S. This Week

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Fed being criticized for its decision to provide the economy with further stimulus.

Last week, the booing was somehow tamed when both PPI and CPI reports fell short of expectations, implying that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke‘s concerns about deflation are warranted. But with regard to economic growth, we have yet to see more evidence he’s right about QE2.

Take note of these economic events and see if the Big Ben and his buds will get the last laugh and say, “We told you so!”

Preliminary GDP Report

First up on our events-a-la-carte is the preliminary or the second reading of the GDP report on Tuesday at 1:30 pm GMT.

Remember that the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports three versions of quarterly GDP on monthly intervals. The Advance reading usually has the most impact because it’s the first to be released. However, if analysts are right about an upward revision to 2.5% in the Preliminary version from 2.0%, there’s a good chance that we could see the dollar pull off major moves up the charts!

An increase may prove skeptics right that the U.S. economy doesn’t need that big of a boost from QE – if risk appetite doesn’t dominate market sentiment, that is. If it does, the dollar could end up trading lower against its higher-yielding counterparts.

FOMC Meeting Minutes

Raise your hand if you remember how the latest FOMC rate statement played out! Well, if your hands ain’t waving in the air like mine are, don’t worry. The minutes of the Fed’s latest monetary policy meeting are set for release on Tuesday and this should shed some light on how policymakers feel about QE.

In their November rate statement, Fed head Ben Bernanke announced that the central bank would buy 600 billion USD worth of Treasury securities in the next eight months. That was a tad more than what the markets expected and it would be interesting to see how the FOMC members reached their decision.

Like I said, QE2 was met with a lot of opposition, particularly from U.S. lawmakers who even wrote an open letter to Bernanke, asking him to dial back the easing.

If the FOMC minutes show that plenty of the committee members are also opposed to QE2, the markets could take that as a sign that Bernanke could still change his mind and go for “QE lite” instead. If that happens, the Greenback could be in for a wild rally so watch out!

Durable Goods Orders

On Wednesday at 9:30 pm GMT, the U.S. durable goods orders for October will be released. The report shows the change in the total value of purchase orders for non-military capital equipment like aircraft, computers, and machinery. This is a leading indicator for production, so a rising figure can signal increased activity for manufacturers.

Last September the orders data which excludes volatile aircraft purchases declined by 0.8%, but was later revised to a 0.4% drop in the factory orders report released a week later. The number suggested that businesses were still reluctant to spend on durable assets, so it weighed down the dollar.

This time around market junkies are pegging the report at a 0.7% growth for orders not including aircraft purchases. Naysayers are declaring that the cooling of business investment has only just begun, so a significantly lower number for this report might provide more support for the Fed’s QE2.

U.S. Housing Data

Of course, who would want to miss the housing reports scheduled this week? Recall that a slump in the housing market is one of the Fed’s main reasons for the QE2, so downside surprises for the existing and new home sales reports next week could put the “umph!” in Ben Bernanke’s triumph to prove his point.

Sales of existing homes exceeded expectations for 4.29 million units with a 4.53 million figure for the month of September. Meanwhile, sales of new homes reached 307,000 after clocking in at 288,000 in August.

Will the October figures beat expectations again next week? We’ll see the existing home sales data on Tuesday at 11:00 pm GMT, while the new home sales report will come out on Wednesday at 11:00 pm GMT. If the numbers show cooling demand from markets, then Ben Bernanke just might bring the QE on like Donkey Kong!

Better stay tuned for these upcoming U.S. reports because those could seal the deal on the QE debate. Is it really necessary or not? Will Bernanke change his mind? I’d like to hear your thoughts so post ‘em shout-outs in the comment box below!

  • PureFX

    Good post! I figure though until the EU situation is resolved it’d take something cataclysmic to shift attention the US domestic front.

  • PureFX

    Good post! I figure though until the EU situation is resolved it’d take something cataclysmic to shift attention the US domestic front.