Investors are going into the last full week of the quarter undecided with respect to the multiple macro forces at play in global markets, but nonetheless willing to take on risk. The euro pared some of its losses versus the U.S. dollar on Friday, as a dovish tone from the Federal Reserve trumped trepidation over the European Central Banks quantitative easing program and the ongoing threat of a Greek exit from the euro zone. For the first time in the history of the index, the FTSE 100 crossed the 7,000 mark. This is despite the pause in the rise of the dollar, which so many strategists have cited as the driver for strength in European equities. Meanwhile, oil futures spiked, the S&P 500 staged a rebound for the week and the VIX hit multimonth lows, suggesting that for now, at least, there is little fear among equity investors.
Monday, March 23: March euro zone consumer confidence data from Eurostat is expected to improve. In the U.S., February existing-home sales data from the National Association of Realtors will be released on Monday. The indicator has been relatively volatile in recent months, in part because of unseasonable weather in parts of the nation. Carnival Cruise Lines will release fiscal first-quarter earnings. The company suffered a blow last week when at least a dozen passengers on a boat operated by Italian subsidiary Costa were injured or killed in terrorist attacks on the Bardo Museum in Tunis.
Tuesday, March 24: HSBC manufacturing purchasing managers index levels for China will be released. The index differs from the official PMI in that it focuses on midsized companies, rather than state-owned enterprises. March Markit PMI will also be released for the primary European economies. German levels reported in February were significantly stronger than readings for France, where the manufacturing-specific index remained in contraction for the month. U.K. consumer and producer inflation levels will be watched by investors for any shift that might sway Bank of England policymakers during the coming months meeting. Consumer price index data also is on deck in the U.S., with forecasts for costs to remain subdued as commodity and fuel prices remain weak.
Wednesday, March 25: German IFO sentiment indexes covering the mood of business leaders are scheduled for release. In the U.S., durable goods orders for February and the critical Energy Information Administration oil inventory level data will be announced.
Thursday, March 26: In France, revised fourth-quarter 2014 GDP will be released, with hopes for at least marginal improvement over abysmal initial readings. Retail sales in U.K. are expected to continue their modest trend of year-over-year improvement. U.S. initial jobless claims data this past week was better than forecast, at 291,000, but the four-week average rose marginally. If this weeks claims data remains range bound, it may suggest that the overall improving labor market is moderating.
Friday, March 27: Critical February CPI data will be released in Japan on Friday as will Tokyo-specific March index levels. Recent data has shown a lack of internal demand despite the Bank of Japans massive easing efforts, as well as mixed results for exports on the heels of a weakened yen. In the U.S., revised fourth-quarter GDP and personal consumption expenditure data will be a focus for analysts and investors. Also to be announced Friday is final University of Michigan consumer sentiment data for March. BlackBerry will announce fiscal fourth-quarter results on Friday. This past week, the beleaguered Canadian firm last week unveiled a new business tablet with tightened security, although consensus analyst opinion remains bearish on the stock.