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Take Five: Interest Rate Lift-Off Ahead

2/ MALLRATS

The U.S. economy is growing robustly and the labour market is rebounding. However, COVID-19 remains a headwind and coming days should bring a fresh perspective on how consumers are faring.

U.S. retail sales likely fell 0.2% in July, after an unexpected rise in June, data on Tuesday is expected to show.

And several large retailers including Walmart, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot will report quarterly results. Earnings are due too from Ross Stores, TJX Companies and Bath & Body Works.

These come at the end of a stellar U.S. second-quarter results season. S&P 500 earnings are expected to have jumped 93.1%, well above prior expectations of 65.4%, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Fed policymakers, assessing when to start unwinding stimulus, will be watching.

-Fed officials grapple over timeline for tapering asset purchases

3/ DELTA BLUES

The Delta variant is close to breaching Asia’s COVID-zero fortresses, with outbreaks and lockdowns looming over what once appeared the world’s most promising regional rebound.

Save for Taiwan and New Zealand, where strict border controls appear to have kept the variant at bay, cities from Sydney to Seoul are finding it hard to contain infections.

In China, Delta has been detected in over a dozen cities, bearing down on a faltering economy, forcing economists to cut growth forecasts.

We will get a snapshot of how the economy fared in July as local activity and flight curbs bit – retail sales, industrial output and house price numbers are all due on Monday.

– China’s COVID outbreak hitting services sector, travel, hospitality

– Wall Street investment banks cut China growth forecasts

4/ APOCALYPSE NOW

If this summer has shown us anything, it’s a glimpse of the sort of havoc the planet faces if the climate emergency is not fixed fast.

Apocalyptic forest fires, floods and drought are laying waste to swathes of Greece, Canada, Turkey, China, Argentina and the United States. Extreme weather consequences include deaths, homelessness, social unrest and rising government debt.

The climate emergency will raise costs everywhere: insurance covers just 60% of disaster-linked losses even in rich North America; it falls to 10% in China, Swiss Re estimates. Worse still, the fires are exacerbating emissions, while forests meant to act as carbon sinks will take decades to regrow.

Until now, warnings, including a recent United Nations one, have had limited impact. But with a global climate conference due in November, this summer’s climate disasters might well swing the pendulum.

-U.N. sounds clarion call over ‘irreversible’ climate impacts

5/ AFGHAN ABYSS

The Taliban’s rapid advance towards Kabul has raised alarm not only about Afghanistan’s future but also the wider spillover in what is already a dangerous neighbourhood.

Iran to the west, the central Asian republics of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north may be at risk, but for markets, Pakistan to the east will be the immediate focus.

Pakistan has lots of debt and a sizable equity market. It also depends on a $6 billion IMF programme. The prospect of years of Taliban violence and mass waves of Afghan refugees will add to the struggle to repair its finances.

– Taliban take strategic Afghan city of Ghazni on road to Kabul

– IMF says Pakistan talks ongoing; more work needed on structural reforms

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SINGAPORE, Lewis Krauskopf in NEW YORK, Sujata Rao, Marc Jones and Dhara Ranasinghe in LONDON; Compiled by Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Susan Fenton)


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