Economic Calendar - Top 5 Events To Watch This Week

Rhetoric rather than economics could be the main driver of sentiment in the week ahead, as investors watch further developments amid a brewing trade war between the U.S. and China.

On the data front, the final reading of fourth-quarter U.S. growth will be the highlight of the holiday-shortened week. Markets stateside will remain closed on Friday for Good Friday.

Staying in the U.S., a number of Federal Reserve policymakers are due to make public appearances that may offer insight into the likelihood of higher interest rates in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, in the UK, market players will look ahead to a final reading on British growth data for further indications on the health of the economy and the likelihood of the Bank of England raising interest rates this year.

Elsewhere, in the euro zone, investors will await monthly inflation data from Germany to assess how fast the European Central Bank will end its massive economic stimulus program.

In addition, market participants will watch data on Canada's gross domestic product to gauge the health of the economy.

Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the five biggest events on the economic calendar that are most likely to affect the markets.

1. U.S. Q4 GDP - Final Estimate

The U.S. is to release final figures on fourth-quarter economic growth at 8:30AM ET (12:30GMT) Wednesday.

The data is expected to show that the economy expanded at a healthy 2.7% annual rate in the final three months of 2017, upwardly revised from a preliminary estimate of 2.5%. It grew by 3.2% in the third quarter.

Besides the GDP report, this week's holiday-shortened calendar also features U.S. data on consumer confidence on Tuesday and pending home sales on Wednesday.

Reports on personal income and spending, which includes the personal consumption expenditures inflation data, the Fed's preferred metric for inflation, are on the agenda for Thursday.

Meanwhile, on Wall Street, equities could see more volatility after each of the three major U.S. averages posted their worst week since January 2016 last week after President Donald Trump announced tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods.

The Dow and S&P 500 tumbled 5.7% and 5.9%, respectively, while the Nasdaqpulled back 6.5%.

2. Fed Speakers

A handful of Fed speeches will get the market's attention this week, as traders watch for more clues on the pace of monetary tightening this year.

On Monday, New York Fed boss William Dudley will participate in a panel discussion about regulatory reform at the United States Chamber of Commerce, in Washington DC at 4:30PM ET (2030GMT).

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and Fed Governor Randal Quarles are also set to deliver remarks on Monday.

Tuesday sees Atlanta Fed boss Raphael Bostic deliver comments at the Hope Global Forums Annual Meeting, in Atlanta.

Bostic is then on tap again on Wednesday, when he will speak at the Atlanta Society of Finance and Investment Professionals luncheon.

Finally, on Thursday, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker will speak on the economic outlook before a New York Association of Business Economics luncheon.

The Fed raised interest rates as expected last week, but stuck to its forecast for two more hikes this year. Some investors had expected the U.S. central bank to project three more rate hikes this year.

Traders are currently pricing in around an 85% chance of a second rate hike in June, according to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool. Odds of a third rate hike by December was seen at about 75%.

3. UK Final Fourth Quarter GDP

The Office for National Statistics is to produce a third estimate on UK fourth-quarter economic growth at 0830GMT (4:30AM ET) on Thursday.

The report is forecast to confirm the economy grew 0.4% in the October-to-December period, unchanged from a preliminary reading. On a year-over-year basis, the economy is forecast to grow by 1.4%, also unchanged from an initial estimate.

The Bank of England kept interest rates steady last week, but two policymakers unexpectedly voted for a hike, reinforcing the view that borrowing costs will rise in May for only the second time since the 2008 financial crisis.

Politics is also likely to be in focus, especially with the Brexit negotiations entering a key phase.

While Britain's economy is lagging behind the global recovery, it has held up better than the gloomy forecasts made at the time of the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.

4. German Inflation Data

Germany will publish preliminary inflation figures for March at 1200GMT (8:00AM ET) Thursday.

The report is expected to reveal that consumer prices in the region's largest economy rose 1.7% last month, accelerating from 1.4% in February.

The data is often seen as a barometer for how prices are faring across the euro zone.

Flash readings on FrenchItalian and Spanish inflation figures will also be on the agenda.

The European Central Bank dropped its long-standing easing bias at its meeting earlier this month, taking another small step in weaning the euro zone economy off its protracted stimulus.

The region's economy is undergoing its broadest expansion in a decade. Yet inflation pressures remain feeble, underlining the ECB's caution in removing stimulus.

5. Canadian Growth Figures

Canada is to release monthly economic growth figures at 8:30AM ET (1230GMT) Thursday.

The data is expected to show that the economy expanded 0.1% in January, after growing at a similar rate a month earlier.

On an annualized pace, Canada's economy is forecast to grow 2.9%, slowing from 3.3% in the preceding month.

Hotter-than-expected domestic inflation data last week raised the chances of a further Bank of Canada interest rate hike over the coming months.