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Hot dates for your diary

Your must-read checklist for the week ahead.

Is there any sign of an export recovery? Will unemployment continue to fall? Will the German Constitutional Court declare an expansion of Euro zone bail-out funds beyond the government’s remit? And will the US Federal Reserve sanction further quantitative easing? These are the issues that make this a critical week for business and markets. Here are the key numbers to expect:



UK trade figures for July. June’s trade deficit in goods was a shocking £10.1 bn – the second worst deficit ever recorded. The figure may have been affected by the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday. More worrying is the prospect of a deteriorating trend in trade account with the rest of the rest of the EU. Exports to rest of EU have been running £1.3 bn lower than a year ago, reflecting weakness in the Euro area economies. And of particular concern is that latest pointers on foreign orders are not good. The manufacturing sector Purchasing Managers Index for exports in August showed foreign orders on the slide for the sixth time in seven months. And the CBI export orders balance fell back to minus 17 per cent in August from minus nine per cent in July and minus four per cent in June. Overall, current forecasts are for a monthly deficit of £9 bn. A services surplus of £5.8 bn would /cut the total trade deficit to a less scary £3bn.



Unemployment (claimant count and ILO measure) for August. Will we be any nearer to cracking the mystery of a resilient labour market but a miserable GDP reading showing three quarters in a row of falling output?  Recent figures showed the claimant count falling by 11,000 over the past six months and the ILO jobless total falling by 46,000 over the second quarter. The benign interpretation is that the GDP readings are too pessimistic. The worrying doubt is that there is a long-term productivity decline. Firms may be continuing to hoard labour and more people may be opting for self-employment. Expectation is that the claimant count may mark time and a fall in ILO unemployment of circa 35,000. Claimant count unemployment is forecast to have been flat in August at 1.5932 million, which would keep the unemployment rate at 4.9% in July, where it has been since September 2011. Claimant count unemployment fell by 5,900 in July after increases of 1,000 in June and 6,900 in May.

ILO data should show employment up by around 175,000 in the three months to July to 29.5 million.  In the three months to June, there was a rise of 130,000 in full-time workers to 21.405 million, while part-time workers were up by 71,000 to 8.070 million.

The German Constitutional Court ruling on the legality of the European Stability Mechanism will be a key test for ECB proposals announced last week to save the Euro. Though a negative court could throw the scheme into chaos, the expectation is that it will pass and pave the way for the ESM to come into force. Indeed, it could be operational as soon as October.  This would be a confirmation of the market’s initial judgement that a vital breathing space for the Euro crisis is in sight.



Red letter day for America, with a keenly awaited announcement from the Federal Reserve’s Open Markets Committee on whether there will be another burst of Quantitative Easing. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke recently appeared to indicate as much in a downbeat assessment of the US economy. But he gave no hint that further asset purchases were imminent. Fed Funds Rate likely to be held at 0-0.25 per cent.