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Next Week’s News Today: Up, Up And Away

It looks as though nothing is now going to stand between the Federal Reserve and its first interest-rate increase in nine years.

There are no more key economic numbers for the rate-setting panel to mull over, anymore. The latest employment figures, which were released on Friday, said it all. The numbers were solid but not of gangbuster proportions. The jobless rate is still around a 7-1/2 year low of 5%; 211,000 jobs were created and the average hourly earnings increased by 0.2%.

The Fed has, thus far, been playing a game of “Name That Tune” with the market at each of its interest-rate meetings. But traders now know that the only song that fits the bill is “Up, Up and Away”.

The Bank of England has an interest-rate decision next week. But a rate hike is about as likely as a snowball in the proverbial. The UK central bank is unlikely to raise rates, anytime soon. At the latest meeting of the rate-setting committee, only one member out of the nine decision makers voted for an increase in the cost of borrowing.

Haruhiko Kuroda, the governor of the Bank of Japan speaks on Monday. But he is unlikely to say anything that could move the markets. Last week, he urged companies to step up investments to spur wage growth, which should then help fuel inflation towards the bank’s target of 2%.

China will report November trade figures on Tuesday. The last time it reported trade numbers, the market freaked out because exports declined by around 7% and imports fell by an even larger 18.8%. They claimed it pointed to a severe slowdown of the Chinese economy.

The only person, it seems, who is not worried is Premier Li Keqiang. He reportedly told a summit attended by the leaders of 16 Eastern and Central European countries that China was on track to reach its target of 7% growth this year.

China also has retail sales figures to report next week. The numbers have been surprisingly robust. In October, sales growth was 11%, which suggests that a rebalancing of the Chinese economy is on track.

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