Heavyweights meet with world still on the ropes
The world's economic heavyweights gather in Washington this week for the spring meeting of both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Ahead of the meetings on Friday, and the Fund's updated economic forecasts earlier in the week, which are likely to be the main economic events of the coming days, IMF chief Christine Lagarde struck a rather downbeat tone.
Mediocre economic growth could become the "new reality", leaving millions stuck without jobs and increasing the risks to global financial stability.
Speaking ahead of the release of the IMF's economic forecasts next week, Lagarde said global growth this year is similar to last year, while it is slightly better for advanced economies and slightly worse for emerging markets. In its last forecasts in January, the IMF said the global economy grew 3.3pc last year, advanced economies expanded by 1.8pc and emerging markets grew 4.4pc.
On Tuesday, the same day as the IMF's World Economic Outlook, data from the United States is expected to show that retail sales in the world's biggest economy probably jumped in March for the first time in four months, amid a pick-up in car purchases and signs that jobs and income growth will spur consumer spending.
On Wednesday, the European Central Bank is expected to announce that it will keep its interest rates unchanged at record lows as it assesses the impact of the quantitative easing programme that it began last month.
At home, the latest Ulster Bank construction purchase managers' index is released today, while on Wednesday, the Central Statistics Office will release the latest data on goods exports and imports.
Alan McQuaid of Merrion stockbrokers is predicting a trade surplus of €3.5bn for February.
"Although not as strong as 2014, we still see Irish exports of goods and services posting a high single-digit volume increase in 2015, which should help contribute to another 4pc plus gross domestic product growth rate this year," he said.