Global Economy Week Ahead: IMF, World Bank and U.S. Housing Starts and Home Sales Data

The week ahead will feature a visit to Washington from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as data on U.S. housing starts and existing home sales, China's first-quarter growth rate and U.K. retail sales.

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MONDAY: On Monday at 10 a.m. (Sunday, 10 p.m. EDT) China will release first-quarter growth data that are expected to show the economy expanded by at least 6.8% year on year, matching fourth-quarter levels, driven by infrastructure spending and a still-strong property market. Economists expect stimulus-fueled growth will tail off in the second half of 2017 but that Beijing will still reach its annual growth target of "about 6.5%."

TUESDAY: The U.S. government releases data on housing starts for March. New single-family construction hit a 10-year high in February amid warm weather, steady job creation and rising demand. Figures for March may struggle to match that pace in the notoriously volatile report. Economists are forecasting a rate of 1.24 million for housing starts, a 3.9% decrease from the previous month.

Vice President Mike Pence will hold the first round of U.S.-Japan talks on trade and the economy in Tokyo with Finance Minister Taro Aso. Officials are expected to set the agenda for the dialogue and release a statement, possibly including a timetable for future discussions.

WEDNESDAY: At 23:50 GMT Wednesday, Japan will release merchandise trade data that are expected to show the country had 575.8 billion yen ($5.3 billion) in surplus during March, down 23% from a year earlier. Imports likely rose 8.2% on recovering energy prices, faster than an expected 6.9% increase in exports, according to economists.

THURSDAY: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank kick off their spring meetings with a slew of central bank speakers. Officials including Bank of Mexico head Agustin Carstens, Brazil's Ilan Goldfajn and the Bank of England's Mark Carney will be speaking in Washington. Optimism about a global economic recovery could be clouded by worries over protectionism in advanced economies.

FRIDAY: U.K. retail sales data will be parsed for signs that British consumers are reining in spending amid accelerating inflation and meager wage growth, a potential drag on economic growth just as the U.K. begins to negotiate its European Union exit. Economists expect that sales fell slightly on the month in March.

The National Association of Realtors will release data on existing-home sales for March. The market so far this year has been mixed, with signs that tight inventories and rising home prices are damping activity. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal expect sales to increase by 1.6% to a rate of 5.57 million.