In stark contrast to the United States and Britain, which are
growing strongly, economic output in the euro bloc is likely to have
all but ground to a halt in the three months to June. Its star
economy, Germany, is losing momentum and Italy is sliding back into
"The United States and the United Kingdom are going to be among the
fastest-growing economies both this year and next," said James
Knightley, an economist with ING. "In Europe, the situation seems to
be going into reverse."
The growing sanctions fight between Russia and the West over
Moscow's backing of rebels in Ukraine and U.S. air strikes to block
Islamist militants in Iraq are also upsetting the markets.
On Thursday, the European Union announces economic output data for
the 18 countries in the euro zone for the April-June quarter, and
Germany will reveal its own gross domestic product for the same
By these yardsticks, neither Germany nor the wider euro zone are
expected to see much, if any, improvement on the first three months
of the year.
To compound matters, tit-for-tat sanctions between Moscow and the
European Union and fears that Russia could even invade eastern
Ukraine are already sapping business confidence and will eat into
paltry economic growth later this year.
Not only does Moscow supply about a third of the European Union's
gas needs, trade ties in other areas between Russia and Europe run
German energy giant E.ON, for instance, has invested 6 billion euros
($8 billion) since 2007 in Russia, while chemicals firm BASF has a
joint venture with Gazprom.
"For a long time, the market has been ignoring the geopolitical
risks," said Gregor Eder, an economist with Allianz, one of the
globe's largest fund investors.
"The escalation in Ukraine and a spiral of sanctions could be a
turning point for that. Exports to Russia were already falling even
before Ukraine and could fall further. The Iraq crisis increases
With Europe looking gloomy and the days of mega-growth in China
over, the United States has offered some hope for the world economy.
Investors will seek to gauge the strength of the U.S. rebound by
examining the latest figures for retail sales and producer prices
Many are looking for reassurance, as they are in Britain, that
economic growth is trickling down to workers' pay - important proof
that the recovery will stick when central banks make it more
expensive to borrow.
But the Bank of England is set to acknowledge surprisingly weak pay
growth on Wednesday when it publishes economic projections, raising
questions about Britain's readiness for its first interest rate hike
since the financial crisis.
Although unemployment is set to fall, earnings are also forecast to
be lower than a year earlier. There is a similar gap in the United
States between rising numbers of people in work and lagging pay.
"To have confidence in the recovery in the United States and United
Kingdom, wages need to rise in line with credit," said ING's
[to top of second column]
"The cost of living continues to exceed wage growth. People need to
see that they have more cash at the end of the month so that they
are not borrowing out of necessity."
In China, industrial output readings will give investors a glimpse
of the country's performance in the third quarter of the year after
government moves to boost lending to business, such as shrinking the
amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve.
China's economy gathered pace slightly to grow by 7.5 percent in the
second quarter as the government stepped up construction of railways
and public housing.
But a downturn in property prices, despite efforts to make it easier
to buy, as well as high local government debts, are holding up the
Analysts believe that deeper reforms, such as overhauling giant
state companies, will be needed in the long term to keep the economy
growing at the pace the authorities want.
In the meantime, the euro zone remains the globe's problem child.
Last week, the European Central Bank signalled that it stood ready
to print money and buy bonds if the euro zone deteriorated, a pledge
to act that the Frankfurt-based bank has made many times in the
ECB President Mario Draghi underscored that he would not be
discouraged from taking such action by the fact that the United
States was plotting a different course.
His words alone, however, may not be sufficient to reassure
investors unnerved at the prospect of the U.S. Federal Reserve
drawing the purse strings ever tighter.
"There has been this fantastic monetary policy experiment where
policy has never been looser," said Paul Dales of Capital Economics,
which advises companies and others.
"You have to get things back to normal. But no-one really knows how
it's going to play out because no-one has been through it before."
(1 US dollar = 0.7470 euro)
(Additional reporting by Kevin Yao in Beijing, Martin Santa in
Brussels, William Schomberg in London and Jason Lange in Washington;
Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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