MORNING BID EUROPE-Euro reform - push-back from Berlin

by Reuters
Tuesday, 17 April 2018 07:21 GMT

* A look at the day ahead from European Economics and Politics Editor Mark John and EMEA markets editor Mike Dolan. The views expressed are their own.

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - The next few days could be decisive in determining whether longstanding efforts to make the euro zone more resilient to future shocks come to fruition. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives today debate a proposal that would put stringent preconditions on any major reforms: notably, they would demand that an EU-wide bail-out fund as proposed by France's Emmanuel Macron could only come about via change of the EU's core treaties. Because that in turn would need the assent of national parliaments across the bloc, that could kill the plan. French frustration is palpable - there was after all a tacit agreement that Berlin would look favourably on such reforms if Paris made efforts to get its public finances in order which, broadly speaking, Macron is. Thursday's meeting between Macron and Merkel will be an interesting one.

This all comes amid growing evidence that the eurozone is coming to the end of its current benign growth cycle. A Reuters poll out this morning shows economists think growth will peak this year at 2.3 percent before ebbing to two percent next. One particular hit that is already being felt comes from the growing trade tensions triggered by Donald Trump's "America First" policy. None of this - so far - is expected to deter the ECB from its course of returning monetary policy to something approaching normal later this year.

In the UK all eyes are on the last set of UK jobs and wages data before the Bank of England's much-awaited meeting in May - at which it is widely expected to raise rates for only the second time in a decade. Economists predict the headline pay growth gauge will hit 3 percent, its fastest pace in nearly two-and-a-half years.

MARKETS AT 0655 GMT

World markets' attention has quickly shifted away from the weekend's military events in Syria to the big readouts on first quarter corporate earnings and GDP. Wall St's overnight advance - which briefly brought MSCI's all-country wild equity index back into the black for the year to date - was helped as the initial throes of the U.S. reporting seasons looked to at least meet the very elevated expectations of aggregate annual profit growth of almost 20 percent. If anything, the first 8 percent of S&P500 firms to report so far have beaten that. Goldman Sachs and IBM are among the big names out later on Tuesday.

Chinese GDP numbers for the first three months have also beaten consensus, coming in at 6.8 percent in the year through Q1. The outcome was slightly dampened by below-forecast March industrial and investment numbers but retail sales for the month surprised to the upside. Asia bourses have been hesitant to follow U.S. indices higher however – not least following the U.S. President's tweeted broadside against China for devaluing its currency for trade gains - despite data showing the yuan has appreciated almost 10 percent against the dollar over the past year. That kept anxiety about trade wars on the boil, pushed the dollar lower across the board and Shanghai stocks fell more than 1 percent for the second day running. HK was down too, although Tokyo and Seoul equity benchmarks were little changed.

European stocks have opened slightly higher despite gains in euro/dollar to its highest levels in almost three weeks. Sterling continues to surge as traders brace for a possible interest rate rise from the Bank of England next month and the pound is back to levels not seen since the month of the Brexit referendum in 2016. UK March jobs and earnings numbers are the main focus for sterling later today. Brent crude oil prices were firmer just below $72. The major U.S. economic report out later is the March industrial production report. Germany sees the release of its ZEW sentiment index. The International Monetary Fund releases its updated World Economic Outlook ahead of the Spring IMF meetings in Washington this weekend.

* Europe corp events: TomTom Q1, Casino Q1 sales, JD Sports FY, AB Foods H1, Sika Q1 sales,

* Italy Feb trade, final March inflation

* UK March jobless, Feb average earnings

* German April ZEW index

* German finance ministry briefing ahead of weekend G20 finance chiefs meeting in DC

* French President Macron addresses European Parliament in Strasbourg

* UK finance minister Hammond testifies to parliamentary committee

* San Francisco Fed chief Williams speaks in Madrid

* US Q1 earnings: Goldman Sachs, IBM, CSX, United Continental, Comerica, J&J, Prologis, UnitedHealth Group, Omnicom, Northern Trust,

* US March housing starts/permits, March industrial production

* IMF releases updated World Economic Outlook ahead of Spring meeting in DC

* Canada Feb manufacturing

* Japan's PM Abe starts visit to the United States in DC

* Riksbank chief Ingves speaks in DC

* Chicago Fed chief Evans speaks in Chicago, Philadelphia Fed chief Harker speaks in Philadelphia (Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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