as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression has been taking its toll on global growth.
Today we have a calendar full of fundamentals, where Germany will release their GFK consumer confidence index for the month of April, the index is expected to decline to 2.5 from the prior estimate of 2.6.
Meanwhile the euro zone will release their M3 money supply index for February; the index is expected to rise by an annualized rate of 5.5 percent following the prior rise of 5.9 percent, while the index is expected to rise by 6.3% in the three months ending February down from the prior rise of 7.0%.
The euro zone economy is still undergoing recession led by its largest economy, Germany continues to feel the pressure from the worst financial crisis, as it indeed hampered Germanyâ€™s exports as global demand faltered, while slowing domestic demand in addition to tightened credit conditions also continue to weigh down on economic growth in Europeâ€™s largest economy.
Moving on to Europeâ€™s second largest economy, the U.K. economy is also feeling the pinch from the credit crisis, which indeed led the economy into the depth of recession, the U.K. will release today their total business investment index for the fourth quarter of 2008, the index is expected to have dropped by 3.9% inline with the prior estimate, while the index is expected to drop by an annualized 7.7% also unrevised from the prior estimate.
Moreover, the U.K. will release their retail sales index for the month of February; the index is expected to drop by 0.4 percent following the prior reported rise of 0.7%, while retail sales are expected to have risen by an annualized 2.5% down from the prior rise of 3.6 percent.
The U.K. economy continues to contract amid the financial crisis, as tightened credit conditions, rising unemployment, and falling home values continue to suppress economic growth and continue to lead the economy deeper in recession.
As for the worldâ€™s largest economy, the final estimate for Gross Domestic Product for the fourth quarter of 2008 will be released today; the U.S. economy is expected to have contracted by an annualized 6.6 percent following the prior estimate which signaled the U.S. economy contracted by 6.2 percent.
Personal consumption is expected to be revised lower to reflect a drop of 4.4 percent following the prior estimate of a 4.3 percent drop, meanwhile inflation as measured by the Fedâ€™s favorite gauge core PCE is expected to have risen by 0.8 percent during the last three months of last year.
Expectations signal that the U.S. economy will continue to contract over the course of the first three months of this year as well, as credit conditions continuing to tighten, while unemployment continued to rise, meanwhile the housing market continued to suffer the misery of its worst slump since the Great Depression, on the other hand the services and the manufacturing sector continue to under perform and accordingly the whole economy continued to under perform its long term growth potentials.
The U.S. government and the Fed are trying everything they can to help the economy withstand the worsening conditions, yet so far all the measures taken proved little against a crisis of such magnitude and accordingly both the Fed and the government were forced to undertake unprecedented and unorthodox measures in order to battle the credit crunch.
The labor market now represents one of the challenges for the U.S. economy, as unemployment rose in February to its highest in 25 years at 8.1 percent, and the outlook suggests that the unemployment rate will continue to surge over the upcoming few months.
The weekly initial jobless claims should continue to signal the severe weakness in the labor market, as median estimates signal that 650,000 applications were filed last week following the prior estimate of 646,000, meanwhile continuing claims are expected to rise to 5.475 million from the prior estimate of 5.473 million.
Also the U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will testify today on regulations, as Geithner and Bernanke have been calling recently for stricter regulations to help the economy avoid such a disaster in the future, since the credit crisis was further fueled by the increased wave of deregulations that was supported by former Fedâ€™s Chairman Greenspan.