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Week ahead: Central bank decisions take centre stage

April 8, 2024

As we approach the second week of April 2024, financial markets and policymakers around the globe are bracing for a series of critical economic reports and central bank decisions. These events are expected to offer valuable insights into the ongoing economic recovery efforts, inflationary pressures, and future monetary policy directions. Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of what to anticipate:

Reserve Bank of New Zealand holds firm

On 10 April 2024, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) made headlines by maintaining its official cash rate (OCR) at 5.5% during its first policy meeting of the year. This decision marked the fifth consecutive meeting without a change in the rate, signalling a cautious stance by the RBNZ amidst economic uncertainties. Analysts are already looking ahead, predicting the OCR to remain at 5.5% following the upcoming meeting, reflecting a steady approach to monetary policy.

U.S. inflation trends upward

In a surprising turn, the annual inflation rate in the United States nudged up to 3.2% in February 2024 from 3.1% in January. This incremental rise, though slight, has caught the attention of market watchers who now forecast a further increase to 3.4% for March. The data, expected to be released on 10 April 2024, will be pivotal for future Federal Reserve decisions.

Bank of Canada’s rate decision

The Bank of Canada, on its part, held its overnight rate target steady at 5% during its March meeting. The bank’s commitment to normalising its balance sheet, despite inflationary concerns, suggests a cautious optimism. Analysts anticipate this trend to continue, with expectations set for the interest rate to remain at 5% in the Bank of Canada’s next meeting.

Federal Reserve and ECB stance

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting, expected on 11 April 2024, will be closely scrutinised. With the fed funds rate holding steady at a 23-year peak of 5.25%-5.5%, the Federal Reserve’s projections for future rate cuts will be of significant interest. Similarly, the European Central Bank (ECB), which has kept interest rates at historically high levels, faces its own set of challenges balancing recession risks with inflation. Analysts foresee the ECB maintaining its current interest rate levels at 4.5% in its forthcoming meeting.

Upcoming economic data

Additionally, the release of the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) on 11 April will offer insights into wholesale price movements, having risen by 0.6% in February. Expectations for March are set at a more modest 0.3% increase. The UK’s GDP data, expected on 12 April, will also be pivotal. After a modest expansion of 0.2% in January, forecasts for February suggest a slight increase of 0.1%, indicating a cautious yet positive economic trajectory.

In summary, the coming week promises a wealth of information for economists, investors, and policymakers alike. With each announcement, the global economic picture for 2024 will become clearer, highlighting the delicate balance central banks are striking between fostering economic growth and managing inflationary pressures.