Investing.com - In the week ahead, global financial markets will focus on the outcome of Wednesday's Federal Reserve policy meeting for any new insight on the timing of the next U.S. rate hike and clues on how the central bank plans to pare back its massive balance sheet.
There are also several key U.S. economic reports, with the biggest being second quarter GDP due on Friday.
Meanwhile, in Europe, market players will eye flash survey data on euro zone business activity to gauge the strength of the region's economy and how it will impact the timing of when the European Central Bank will start unwinding its asset purchase program.
In the U.K., investors will await the first estimate of U.K. second quarter GDP for further hints on the health of the economy and the likelihood of the Bank of England raising interest rates this year.
Elsewhere, traders will pay close attention to second quarter inflation data from Australia as they look for more clues on the health of the economy and the timing of a potential rise in borrowing costs.
Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the five biggest events on the economic calendar that are most likely to affect the markets.
1. Federal Reserve rate decision
The Federal Reserve is not expected to take action on interest rates at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting at 2:00PM ET (1800GMT) on Wednesday, keeping it in a range between 1.0%-1.25%.
The central bank will release its post-meeting statement as investors look for any change in language which could point more clearly to a rate hike in the months ahead.
Market players will also pay close attention to details of when and how the Fed will start reducing its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
According to Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool, conviction for another rate hike before the end of the year has faded, with just 35% of market players expecting another move by December, as the subdued inflation outlook raised doubts over whether policymakers will be able to stick to their planned tightening path.
2. U.S. advanced 2nd quarter GDP
The U.S. is to release preliminary figures on second quarter economic growth at 8:30AM ET (1230GMT) Friday.
The report is expected to show that the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.6% in the April-June quarter, improving from growth of 1.4% in the first quarter.
Besides the GDP report, this week's calendar also features U.S. data on both existing and new home sales, as well as consumer confidence, durable goods orders and weekly jobless claims.
Focus will also be on headlines coming out of Washington, where the Senate is expected to continue working to repeal Obamacare. The investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump campaign's ties to Russia will continue to get attention.
For the stock market, investors will digest a heavy week of earnings, with more than a third of the S&P 500 companies and 13 Dow stocks set to post results.
FANG names - Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) - will garner most of the attention, as will Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Boeing (NYSE:BA).
3. Flash euro zone PMIs
The euro zone is to publish preliminary data on manufacturing and service sector activity for July at 0800GMT (4:00AM ET) on Monday, amid expectations for a modest decline.
Ahead of the euro zone PMI's, France and Germany will release their own PMI reports at 0700GMT and 0730GMT respectively.
In addition to the PMI data, there is also an IFO survey on German business morale as well as preliminary German inflation data on the docket.
Last week, the European Central Bank kept borrowing costs at record lows and called for patience and persistence in getting inflation back up to its target. Central bank chief Mario Draghi added that discussions on the future of the bank’s asset purchase program would take place in the fall.
4. U.K. preliminary Q2 GDP
The Office for National Statistics is to produce preliminary data on U.K. economic growth for the second quarter at 0830GMT (4:30AM ET) on Wednesday.
The report is forecast to reveal the economy grew 0.3% in the three months ended June 30, after expanding 0.2% in the previous three-month period. On an annualized rate, the British economy is expected to grow 1.7% in the second quarter, slowing from growth of 2.0% in the preceding quarter.
Comments from Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane on Tuesday will also be in focus.
Some BOE policymakers have started to call for higher interest rates in the months ahead due to the recent surge in inflation, which was caused largely by the plunge in sterling following last year's Brexit vote.
5. Australia second quarter CPI
Australia is to publish data on second quarter consumer price inflation at 0130GMT on Wednesday (9:30PM ET Tuesday). The data is expected to show that inflation increased 0.4% in the April-to-June period, after rising 0.5% in the first three months of the year.
Trimmed mean CPI, which excludes the most volatile 30% of items in the broad CPI calculation, is projected to climb 0.5%.
Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe is due to deliver a speech titled "The Labor Market and Monetary Policy" at the Anika Foundation Luncheon, in Sydney shortly after the release of the CPI data.
Minutes of the RBA's July meeting published last week revealed that the central bank turned more upbeat on the economic outlook, citing an improving labor market, stronger public investment and a pick-up in household consumption.
Futures market now implied a 24% chance of a rate rise by December, up from just 8% previously.
Stay up-to-date on all of this week's economic events by visiting: http://www.investing.com/economic-calendar/