WHAT TO WATCH: U.S. inflation for March at 8:30 a.m. will probably show a slight pickup in the month-to-month headline rate and no change from February's zero year-to-year figure (see a full preview). At 10 a.m., the University of Michigan's first consumer-confidence reading for April is likely to show a modest rebound after a decline in March. The Conference Board's leading index, also at 10 a.m., will probably show momentum edging up to a three-month high.
ECONOMICS: U.K. jobless-benefit claims fell to the lowest rate in 40 years and underlying pay growth accelerated, giving an electoral boost to Prime Minister David Cameron. The euro-area inflation rate was unchanged at minus 0.1 percent in March, final data for the month showed. European Central Bank Governing Council member Jens Weidmann and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble give a press briefing in Washington.
GOVERNMENT: The IMF and World Bank spring meetings begin, with finance officials and central bankers today due to discuss issues including infrastructure spending and development finance. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew gives a news conference after the meetings, and separate gatherings of G-20 officials, at 5:30 p.m.
MARKETS: The dollar ended the week down against all of its major counterparts after U.S. data on housing, factories and retailers disappointed.
U.K. jobless-benefit claims fell to the lowest rate in 40 years and underlying pay growth accelerated. According to the last labor-market report before the general election on May 7, the claimant count fell for a 29th month in March to 2.3 percent, the lowest since 1975. A wider measure of unemployment fell to 5.6 percent the three months through February, the lowest since 2008, the Office for National Statistics said in London. Annual wage growth excluding bonuses accelerated to 1.8 percent in the three months through February from 1.6 percent in the period through January.
Consumer prices in the euro area declined 0.1 percent in March from a year earlier, in line with the previous estimates, a final reading showed. Consumer prices rose 1.1 percent in the month from a previous reading of a 0.6 percent increase.
U.K. home-price inflation slowed to the least in more than a year last month as uncertainty surrounding next month's election damped activity. Prices rose an annual 5.6 percent, down from 6.8 percent in February and marking the smallest increase since November 2013, LSL Property Services and Acadata said in a report. While sales increased almost 12 percent, this was half the increase expected during the spring property season, they said.
- "We've become a bit more cautious over the past few months because markets have been rallying pretty rapidly," said Dirk Thiels, head of investment management at KBC Asset Management. "Expectations for an earnings rebound in Europe make sense, but valuations are pricing in a lot. Stocks are still pretty close to a record. The major macro thing at play now is the Greek saga. There's a low chance of a Greek exit, but anything between that and a full-fledged rescue is also possible."
- Cheaper valuations of Chinese companies' Hong Kong-quoted class-H shares ¿ compared with the China-listed, yuan-denominated class-A shares ¿ will persist for at least another three to six months, said George Philips, CEO of Northwest Investment Management (HK).
- Argentine local peso futures controlled by the central bank can serve as a hedge against an expected devaluation, according to Mauro Roca, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group.
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