Business Lookahead: Prices, rates, big decisions

STORY: From a huge week for global economic data, to a critical budget in the UK, these are the business and finance stories to watch out for in the coming days…

Tuesday’s U.S. inflation data could be make-or-break for the Federal Reserve’s next decision on rates.

Bank chair Jerome Powell roiled markets when he said hikes could get bigger and faster if price rises stay strong.

For now, investors price in another half-percentage point hike at the next policy meeting.

China has set itself a 5% growth target.

On Wednesday we’ll find out if that looks about right, with retail and factory data due.

The government will want to see an upturn from the 3% in 2022 - the country’s worst performance in decades.

The European Central Bank has a rate decision to make on Thursday.

It’s already raised rates by 3 percentage points since July, and another half percentage point is seen likely.

Bank chief Christine Lagarde will be put on the spot to say just how high rates might go.

British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Spring Budget.

After the mayhem sparked by the last administration’s tax and spending plans, analysts predict caution.

Hunt is expected to keep a lid on borrowing and avoid doing anything that could rattle sterling.

And emerging-market traders will watch for any impact from the Fed’s tough talk.

Any prospect of rates hitting 6% will spell pain for anyone holding stocks, bonds, or currencies from emerging nations.

Such assets often buckle when global rates rise.