Investors pin growth hopes on U.S. as Ukraine crisis casts shadow on Europe
By John O'Donnell
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - With the prospect of stiffer sanctions against Russia rattling confidence in Europe, investors will be looking to the United States and China to underpin the global economy.
Wednesday's U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) reading and jobs data on Friday will help markets to judge the strength of the economy's rebound and the likely speed of the Federal Reserve's return to more conventional monetary policy. The Fed meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"The U.S.-China story is looking more encouraging," said James Knightley, an economist with ING. "With the European Central Bank's moves, that should allow the euro zone economy to swing upwards but with a good six- to 12-month lag."
In Europe, the downing of a Malaysia Airlines airliner over eastern Ukraine has left countries such as Germany with little choice but to change their long-passive stance and impose tougher sanctions on Moscow over the role of pro-Russian separatists.
Early this week, European Union ambassadors are expected to meet to finalize sanctions that could include closing EU capital markets to state-owned Russian banks, placing an embargo on arms sales and restricting supply of energy technology.
Globally, such sanctions would bite hardest in Europe, where Russia does most trade, compounding economic problems not only for Russia but throughout the region.
The International Monetary Fund has already flagged the 'chilling effect' on investment in Russia of sanctions as it pared back its forecast for global economic growth last week.
Confidence amongst businesses in Germany, which accounts for more than one quarter of all exports across the European Union, has dipped further since the plane crash. Continued...