Week Ahead

Investors will continue to monitor the spread and impact of Covid-19 on the global economy amid hopes of a coordinated stimulus package from world policymakers. G7 leaders will hold a video conference on Monday, while EU finance ministers meet to discuss budgetary action. In addition, central banks around the world are seen easing monetary policy, including the Fed, PBoC and BoJ. Important data include industrial output and retail sales figures for the US and China, alongside UK jobs report, Japan trade and inflation, and Australia employment figures.

G7 leaders will hold a video conference on Monday to discuss an economic and financial response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In the US, Federal Reserve policymakers will probably slash interest rates for the second time this month when they meet on Wednesday, with markets pricing in a cut by at least 75bps. Officials lowered interest rates last week by 50bps in their first intermeeting rate cut since 2008 in an attempt to support the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. Investor focus will also turn to Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference and the latest FOMC economic projections for further details about future policy steps. Regarding the US economic calendar, notable publications are industrial output, retail sales, building permits and housing starts, existing home sales, business inventories, current account, JOLTs Job Openings, NAHB Housing Market Index, NY Empire State Manufacturing Index and Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index.

Elsewhere in America, the central bank of Brazil will likely lower its Selic benchmark rate by 25bps at its March 18th meeting aimed at supporting its economy against the coronavirus outbreak. Important data to follow include Canada inflation rate, retail trade and house prices; Brazil business confidence; Chile fourth-quarter GDP figures.

In the UK, the unemployment rate is set to fall to its lowest level since early 1975 and wage growth is seen accelerating from the previous month’s 16-month low. Elsewhere in Europe, German investor morale is expected to plunge hurt by the recent market volatility. Other key economic indicators to watch for include the Eurozone construction output, trade balance and fourth-quarter wage growth; Italy trade balance and factory orders; Switzerland and Spain trade data. Central banks in Switzerland, Turkey and Russia will be meeting to review interest rates.

Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China decides on monetary policy on Friday, following a 10bps rate cut last month, in an attempt to inject more liquidity into the financial market and lower financing costs for companies battling with the coronavirus pandemic. Investors will also turn their attention to factory output, retail sales, fixed asset investment and house price index.

The Bank of Japan will likely announce an expansion to its stimulus measures at the end of its monetary policy meeting on Thursday, joining major central banks around the world in an attempt to limit the impact from the outbreak. Policymakers pledged to release cash into the markets, but is seen holding interest rates at current levels. Other key data include trade balance, consumer inflation, machinery orders and the final reading of industrial production.

The Reserve Bank of Australia will publish the minutes of its last monetary policy meeting. On the economic data front, important releases are employment figures, Westpac leading index and house price index.

Other highlights for the Asia-Pacific region include: India wholesale prices; New Zealand Q4 GDP, current account and Services NZ PSI; and Indonesia and Singapore trade figures; Taiwan export orders; Hong Kong unemployment rate;. Central banks in the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan will decide on interest rates, with widespread expectations of rate cuts.

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