World Economy

Eurozone Economic Health Unclear

Eurozone Economic Health Unclear
Eurozone Economic Health Unclear

More evidence that eurozone growth has slowed this year is likely to be seen on Thursday, when surveys are expected to show an escalating global trade war is hurting producers.

The currency bloc was a surprise economic star last year, outpacing its peers, but the rate of expansion is steadily slowing and a succession of Reuters polls have said it has already peaked—although a recession is seen as unlikely.

Protectionist policies on trade are likely to tap the brakes significantly on global growth and have already caused turmoil in financial markets.

Manufacturers have been spooked by the escalating trade war between the United States and its trading partners although reports say China is to send a delegation to Washington for discussions and may allay some of those fears.

Thursday’s composite Purchasing Managers’ Index for the eurozone, compiled by IHS Markit, will be the first gauge of the economy’s health in August.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, and if the 54.3 forecast in a Reuters poll for a composite PMI is realized it will confirm growth remains robust but is far weaker than the decade-high pace witnessed earlier this year.

“European growth momentum is losing steam. (But) We only expect a small setback compared to last month, despite relatively weak European financial markets so far in August,” Nordea economists said.

With growth holding strong and inflation confirmed above the European Central Bank’s target in July, ECB policymakers are unlikely to go back on plans to end its €2.6 trillion ($2.98 trillion) bond buying program this year. They are expected to begin raising borrowing costs in the second half of 2019.

Across the Atlantic, where growth has also already peaked, the US Federal Reserve has been tightening policy and is expected to plough ahead with planned interest rate hikes. It is alone among peers in carrying on with a tightening campaign, which has driven the dollar sharply higher.

The Bank of England raised interest rates earlier this month, above financial crisis lows, but signaled it was in no hurry to raise them further.

Trade fears in Britain are focused on what deal it can strike with the European Union before leaving the bloc at the end of March. If no agreement is struck, market watchers expect sterling to fall and growth to slow further.

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