The first look at the U.S. first-quarter gross domestic product growth, which will be announced Friday, should reflect a solid start to the year. However, durable goods and home sales probably weakened in March.

Buoyed by accelerations in consumer spending and stock-building, real GDP probably expanded at an annualized clip of 3.0 percent, after virtually no change over the final three months of 2012.

But as March and April data continue to disappoint, attention has already shifted to the second quarter and the road ahead.

In Europe, April’s euro zone PMI and German Ifo readings will provide the first signs of whether business activity and sentiment have been hit by the recent events in Cyprus, Italy and Portugal. Eurostat will publish official debt and deficit figures, which are relevant for the coming policy discussions.

After months of speculation, investors will finally get the official verdict this week on whether the UK is in a triple-dip recession or not. Vicky Redwood at Capital Economics think the chances of a further contraction in British GDP in the first quarter are pretty much 50/50.

Whether the economy shrinks by a fraction or grows by a fraction is of little importance in the big picture.

“Barring a major surprise in this week’s GDP figures, the main point is that the recovery will still look depressingly dismal – especially now that the labor market is weakening,” Redwood said in a note to clients.

The Bank of Japan’s Policy Board meeting on Friday is expected to keep its monetary policy unchanged. The focus is BOJ’s new forecast of consumer price index for fiscal year 2014. A median core CPI forecast below 1.5 percent could spark speculation about further easing measures.

In January, the median forecast of board members for the Japanese CPI (excluding fresh food) in FY 2014 was 0.9 percent, excluding the impact of the planned consumption tax hike, or 2.9 percent including the hike.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Q1 GDP figures to be released this week are unlikely to show any significant rebound in growth to surprise the consensus on the upside.

Both New Zealand and the Philippines hold interest rate meetings this week. The central banks in both countries are likely to keep policy settings on hold.

Below are entries on the economic calendar for April 23-26. All listed times are EDT.


8:58 a.m. – The Markit manufacturing PMI is expected to hold at 54.6 in April.

9 a.m. – Economists look for the FHFA Home Price Index to rise 0.6 percent in February, consistent with the improvement in other home price indices during the same period. This would translate into a year-over-year increase of 6.9 percent.

10 a.m. – New home sales probably rose by 1.5 percent from a month ago to 417,000 units in March.

10 a.m. – Richmond Fed's Manufacturing Survey for April.


Netherlands -- Parliament votes on Cyprus aid package.

Hungary -- Deposit rate.

New Zealand -- RBNZ official cash rate.

China -- Flash HSBC manufacturing PMI index.

E17 -- "Flash" manufacturing PMI, “flash" services PMI and “flash” composite PMI for April.


7 a.m. -- The Mortgage Bankers Association's, or MBA's, mortgage-applications indexes for the week ended April 19.

8:30 a.m. – Durable goods orders are expected to fall 2.5 percent month-on-month in March, owing to a drop in Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) orders. In February, a large jump in Boeing orders drove the 5.6 percent pop in durable goods orders. In March, Boeing received orders for only 39 planes, or 140 less than in February. Stripping out the volatile transportation sector, economists look for durable goods orders to expand a modest 0.5 percent, following the 0.7 percent decline in February. The core capital goods orders is expected to increase by 0.9 percent, after falling 3.2 percent in February.


E17 -- European Central Bank Executive Board member Yves Mersch speaks on "Prospects for the euro and Europe" in Germany.

E17 -- ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio presents ECB annual report 2012 in Brussels.

Germany – IFO business climate index, current assessment index and business expectations index for April.

South Korea – Preliminary Q1 GDP.


8:30 a.m. -- Economists see initial jobless claims at 350,000 in the week ended April 20, down from 352,000 in the prior week.


E17 -- ECB Executive Board Member Jorg Asmussen speaks at Bellwether Europe conference in London.

Philippines -- BSP policy rate.

Spain -- Unemployment rate for Q1.

UK – Q1 GDP preliminary release.

Japan – March nationwide CPI.


8:30 a.m. – Economists expect the advance release of Q1 GDP to show real growth of 3.0 percent at an annualized rate, partly as a payback to the soft 0.4 percent gain in Q4. Economists believe much of this swing owes to inventories. Absent this, they are looking for modestly stronger growth in private consumption and residential investment and a smaller decline in government spending. Net trade will likely provide a small boost to the GDP number.

9:55 a.m. – In the preliminary April release, the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment slipped to 72.3 from 78.6. Economists expect a slight upward tick to 73.0 in the final release, as gas prices have come down and the housing market continues to improve. But labor market conditions remain weak.


France -- President François Hollande visits China.

Spain -- Releases its "stability and convergence program" and "national reform program."

Japan -- BoJ target rate.

Colombia -- Overnight lending rate.

E17 -- ECB Executive Board Member Asmussen speaks on "Global growth through M&A?" in Frankfurt.

Mexico -- Overnight rate.

E17 -- M3 and loans to private sector for March.

Sources: Central banks, European Commission, Reuters, Market News, Capital Economics, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Nomura, Societe Generale.