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US, UK Growth in Focus As Greece Crisis Pauses

  • Reuters

A meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve and the first estimate of U.S. second-quarter growth are likely to be this week's economic centerpieces with markets able for the first time in months to look beyond Greece's debt struggle.

After a series of emergency eurozone meetings, Greece has received a bridge loan of 7.2 billion euros ($7.9 billion) and passed a series of measures designed to persuade international creditors to agree a third bailout of 86 billion euros. Those talks are likely to come to a head in August.

In the meantime, the Fed's rate-setting Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Economists do not expect a rate rise until September when the central bank plans a news conference, unlike July when only a statement is planned.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has warned, however, that "every meeting is live", with a decision possible at any time.

The policymakers will probably already have a steer on U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter, a first estimate of which will be published on Thursday. The economy is seen returning to growth, of 2.7 percent, after a contraction in a weather-hit first three months.

Customers shop in the pharmacy department of a Target store in the Brooklyn borough of New York June 15, 2015.

Customers shop in the pharmacy department of a Target store in the Brooklyn borough of New York June 15, 2015.

Weak retail sales and a disappointing employment report in June and May's sharp drop in business confidence have raised concerns the world's biggest economy is slowing. But a fifth monthly rise in consumer prices in June and strong housing data could support a monetary policy tightening.

"I think GDP will be good enough not to derail a September rate hike," said Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING. "I think you'd really need to have bad data to affect the story even with inflation not really evident."

Split seen over UK rate hike

In Britain, data on Tuesday is expected to show Europe's second-largest economy recovered from a surprise slowdown in early 2015 and grew by a quarterly 0.7 percent in the April-June period, back to the kind of pace seen at the end of last year.

Britain is on course to expand at a faster pace than other rich economies for a second year in a row but its recovery remains heavily reliant on consumers, rather than manufacturers.

A widely watched consumer confidence survey is predicted to show optimism dipping slightly in July but remaining close to its highest levels in more than 15 years. Data from the Bank of England on Wednesday is expected to show mortgage approvals hitting their highest levels in more than a year.

The Bank of England meets the following week, with no rate change expected then, although the vote could expose the first split this year within the Monetary Policy Committee. New forecasts for the economy are likely to pave the way for a rate hike in early 2016 or possibly even late 2015.

With a pause in the Greek crisis, the stand-out event in the euro zone will be the first estimate of inflation, due on Friday. It is seen steady at 0.2 percent, after early expectations of a slight rise to 0.3 percent.

Weaker than expected euro zone purchasing managers' indexes (PMI) released on Friday may have dampened hopes that the European Central Bank's bond-buying and the tumbling euro are boosting growth and driving inflation higher in Europe.

Finally, the overall health of the Chinese recovery should become clearer after official National Bureau of Statistics PMI data for both manufacturing and services on Saturday.

Friday's flash Caixin/Markit PMI showed activity in Chinese factories contracted for a fifth consecutive month and by the most in 15 months in July, sending gold to a five-month low and copper to a six-month trough.

($1 = 0.9139 euros)