NEW YORK (Real Money) -- The European Central Bank holds its news conference on Wednesday, with all eyes on President Mario Draghi's speech and Q&A session. Here are the main things to watch out for:
1. Growth, reforms and the ECB forecasts.
On the issue of growth, Draghi will be quite pleased with the latest data. Eurozone manufacturing PMI came in at 52.2 in May, in line with the flash figure and slightly higher than April's 52.0, data from Markit show. What's more encouraging, Spain's PMI was at an eight-year high, and Italy's at a four-year high. It looks like the periphery countries are finally on the mend.
Add to that the best earnings season in many years for European companies, due to a combination of the weak euro, lowest interest rates ever and cheap fuel, and you can expect the head of the ECB to be elated. He is likely to appeal again to governments in the single currency area to do their bit now to stimulate growth.
As Alberto Gallo, head of macroeconomic analysis at RBS, pointed out: "The bottom line is, Europe needs growth in order to absorb its debt overhangs," and fiscal policy can play a role in restoring that growth. Investment in research and development "remains considerably lower in Europe than in the U.S. or Japan; Germany and Scandinavia are comparable, but the periphery invests much less ... curbing deficits by cutting education or R&D investment may be counterproductive to long-run growth, as well as in the short run."