Week Ahead: Central banks take centre stage

The week ahead is dominated by central bank statements. We’ve got three lined up, with the first coming from the ECB. Its dovish outlook runs counter to the Reserve Bank of Australia and Bank of Canada who’ve taken on a more hawkish character of late. We’re not expecting major policy shifts – but surprises are never far away in the world of economics. 

The last glimpse inside the European Central Bank’s thinking we got came in the form of its July meeting minutes. In a world where central banks are starting to take more hawkish footings, the ECB is still relatively dovish. 

The ECB announced its first major strategic financial policy in July. Inflation targets were revised away from trying to keep it below 2% by adopting a specific 2% headline inflation target. Since then, inflation in the Euro area has risen to a decade high of 3%, which is likely to encourage hawks on the Governing Council.  

All very well and good, but what about COVID-19? The pandemic is by no means over, but some key ECB board members are confident even the impact of the Delta variant can’t stunt Europe’s return to the black. 

Limited headwinds are expected. The sentiment is positive. 

“I would say we’re broadly not too far away from what we expected in June for the full year,” Philip Lane, the ECB’s chief economist, told Reuters on Wednesday. “It’s a reasonably well-balanced picture.” 

Importantly, the ECB has said it will keep a “persistently accommodative” stance going forward. Interest rates are likely to stay at their current exceptionally low levels. We’re not expecting to see a shift towards a more hawkish position any time soon. 

Moving to Australia, the RBA has been fairly bullish in its most recent communications. A new rate statement will come the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday morning and we’re not expecting the bank to stray too far from its current course. 

That is to say, tapering of the RBA’s bond buying programme will continue with the aim of scaling it back from September onwards. Rates will probably stay low too. We’re not expecting a hike until late 2022 at the earliest. 

Much depends on how robust Australia’s economy fares in light of rising coronavirus cases and localised lockdowns.  

“The board would be prepared to act in response to further bad news on the health front should that lead to a more significant setback for the economic recovery,” the RBA said in its August meeting minutes. “Experience to date had been that, once virus outbreaks were contained, the economy bounced back quickly.” 

Governor Lowe and his colleagues have said a recession is not very likely, although growth prospects have been revised for 2021. This year, the RBA expects annual growth to be around 4%, lower than the 4.75% previously forecast, but will rise to 4.25% by the end of 2022. 

Rounding off the week’s cavalcade of central bank statements is the Bank of Canada. The BOC is one of the more hawkish of the world’s central banks and has moved towards bond-buying tapering quite quickly, even though it is holding its overnight rate at 0.25%. 

The BOC did point out that a fresh wave of infections and lockdowns in Q2 did inhibit growth, but the bank is confident growth will expand rapidly towards the end of the year.  

The central bank said Canada’s economy is now expected to grow 6.0% in 2021, down from the April forecast of 6.5%, while it revised up its 2022 growth estimate to 4.6% from 3.7%. 

Hot inflation is still floating in the air, with readings expected to stay at or above 3% through to 2022. Quite hot – and at the top of the BOC’s 1-3% range. However, the bank is confident this is all transitionary. It is unlikely to force a policy rethink. 

Major economic data 

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Asset  Event 
Tue 7-Sep  5.30am  AUD  RBA Rate Statement 
  5.30am  AUD  Cash Rate 
  10.00am  EUR  ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  10.00am  EUR  German ZEW Economic Sentiment 
       
Wed 8-Sep  3.00pm  CAD  BOC Rate Statement 
  3.00pm  CAD  Ivey PMI 
  3.00pm  CAD  Overnight Rate 
  Tentative  CAD  BOC Press Conference 
       
Thu 9-Sep  12.45pm  EUR  Monetary Policy Statement 
  12.45pm  EUR  Main Referencing Rate 
  1.30pm  EUR  ECB Press Conference 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  3.30pm  GAS  US Natural Gas Inventories 
  4.00pm  OIL  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Fri 10-Sep  1.30pm  CAD  Employment Change 
  1.30pm  CAD  Unemployment Rate 
  1.30pm  USD  PPI m/m 
  1.30pm  USD  Core PPI m/m 
  Tentative  GBP  Monetary Policy Hearings