Two important central bank meetings form the backbone of this week's economic diary. On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is in action, while on Thursday it's the turn of the European Central Bank (ECB).
Key interest rates at both central banks remain at record lows, but while ECB policymakers are turning increasingly hawkish, the RBA's governing council appears stuck in neutral. Perhaps this could change this week.
Elsewhere during the week, news on retail sales in the UK and the eurozone, an update on second-quarter gross domestic product in the eurozone, the US Federal Reserve Beige Book survey and UK manufacturing and industrial production provide an insight into global growth prospects.
RBA emerging from long rate unwind
Australia's reserve bank last made a move on its overnight cash rate 13 months ago which ended a near six-year cycle of rate cuts from 4.75% to its current record low of 1.5%.
The Australian economy has had to readjust to lower mining revenues since the commodities boom of 2011-12, but the RBA believes this transition is almost complete and forecasts trend growth over the next few years at an annual 3%.
Despite some optimistic overtures regarding global growth prospects in August's statement, the RBA remained neutral in its rates stance, giving little away on likely future policy.
Like the ECB, the RBA is dealing with a strong domestic currency that is keeping a lid on inflation, and these factors will likely influence another policy decision for no change.
Analysts at BofA Merrill Lynch believe the RBA could send a stronger signal to prepare markets that the next move in rates will be higher, but don't foresee any physical move for some time to come.
Viraj Patel, FX strategist at ING, says: "Short-term rates have drifted lower as markets question the RBA’s appetite for tightening. We suspect this trend may continue – noting that market expectations for a 3Q18 rate hike may get pushed out further."
Taper talk and the ECB
Eurozone economic activity remains strong in the third quarter, according to most survey evidence. Indeed, last week economic confidence in the currency bloc rose to a 10-year high.
Could Thursday be the day then, that the European Central Bank announces tentative plans for stimulus withdrawal and a "gentle" tapering of its monthly asset purchases?
Capital Economics believes the ECB will wait till October to announce a more aggressive tapering from its current €60bn a month to zero by the end of the first half of next year. Much will remain on the strength of the euro.
Should the currency continue to strengthen – a perplexing conundrum for the ECB – then tapering is likely to be more protracted as the central bank doesn't want policy tightening to speed up the appreciation of the euro.
ING's Mark Cliffe is of this school of thought: "We expect Draghi [ECB president] to extend quantitative easing by six months and halve the pace of purchases from January."
Global service sector surveys
Purchasing managers in service industry businesses give their slant on economic activity during August, starting with the UK and eurozone on Tuesday.
UK service sector activity grew in July, albeit gently, according to the last purchasing managers' index (PMI).
The indicator showed that the sector continued to expand for the twelfth month running, but confidence eroded as stretched household budgets crimped new business growth.
PMI activity in the eurozone slowed from the previous month, disappointing expectations of a rise, but still looks healthy in an economy that has surprised many in recent months for its depth of robustness.
In the US, meanwhile, the similar index produced by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) fell sharply. Although activity expanded for the 91st consecutive month, it was at a reduced pace as new orders fell.
The 60.5 reading of the new orders sub-index in June was perhaps skewed by a massive order for 200 aircraft won by Boeing.
Consensus estimates for August's readings on all three indexes point to little change from July, and still showing relatively healthy levels of growth in business activity.
Fed's Beige Book
The key takeaway from the last report was that economic activity expanded across all twelve Federal Reserve Districts in June, with the pace described as ranging from "slight to moderate".
Concerns were expressed in some districts about a softening in consumer spending, but "modest to moderate" wage growth and easing price pressures were also reported.
Wednesday's report on conditions in July will be keenly watched for clues on economic activity at the start of the third quarter, given last week's unexpectedly large upward revision to second-quarter gross domestic product.
Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics says: "Based on the retail sales figures, the upward revision looks to have been concentrated in the final two months of the second quarter, which means an even stronger hand-off going into the third quarter."
Best of the rest
The British Retail Consortium delivers its verdict on UK retail sales in August on Tuesday, while official eurozone retail sales data are available the same day.
Industrial data is also plentiful this week: factory orders for July are published on Tuesday in the US and on Wednesday in Germany, and industrial production data for July are published in Germany on Thursday and in the UK on Friday.
Although at this point there's not much to say about the second estimate of eurozone GDP in the second quarter, markets will be looking for upward revisions to the 2.2% annual growth reported in the flash estimate given last week's US upgrade from 2.6% to 3%.
Learn more on Thursday.
Slowing activity is seen in the earnings calendar this week. Among those reporting interim results in the US are Hewlett Packard Enterprises on Tuesday, MillerCoors on Wednesday and Barnes & Noble on Thursday.
It's a big week for housebuilders in the UK, with Redrow, Barratt Developments and Bovis Homes reporting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Also on Thursday, Go-Ahead Group report.