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THE WEEK AHEAD

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There are three main UK data releases over the coming week: October's trade data, November's industrial production,...
There are three main UK data releases over the coming week: October's trade data, November's industrial production, and the latest CBI distributive trades survey. Colder weather in November should have boosted energy production and hence overall industrial production. However, manufacturing output is expected to have been held back by a continued stock run-down, and slow growth overseas.

There is expected to have been a deterioration in the UK's whole-world trade deficit in October. Figures already released show a widening in the non-EU deficit. With the continued recovery in import-rich manufacturing investment, plus the slowdown in continental Europe, it is likely that the trade balance with EU countries will also deteriorate.

It is hoped that the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey will support anecdotal evidence of a sharp rebound in retail sales at the end of 1995.

With the US government shutdown likely to continue for another week, economic data releases remain thin on the ground. Producer and consumer price data due to be published on Thursday and Friday have already been postponed, leaving only the release of December's retail sales data on Friday.

Thursday brings the publication of the first estimate of Germany's GDP in Q4 1995. The economy slowed in the second half of the year, as indicated by subdued industrial production data, and GDP growth is expected to have moderated. The weak economy is reflected in the labour market, with the unemployment rate remaining high and the prospect of further job losses. The Federal Labour Office, in one of its gloomiest new year predictions, estimates that unadjusted unemployment could breach the 4m mark this month, compared with 3.6m in November. This would translate into an unemployment rate of over 10%, close to the 1994 record.
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